The Sarawak government has allocated a site between two and four hectares here to Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) to set up its Peat Test Research Station (PTRs) to study peat soil.UTHM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin said the station would be co-ordinated by its own research and development initiative known as Recess (Research Centre For Soft Soils).
It would be open to other local and international research institutions, he said at the opening of the two-day national-level Engineering Seminar on Peat 2009 here. He said Sibu has about 550,000sq km of peat soil area, the biggest in Sarawak. He added that Johor, like Sibu, had its share of peat soil. “As a matter of fact, we are building our main campus in Johor, costing more than RM700mil, on peat soil. “As such, we are just as keen to learn how construction on peat soil can be done,” he said.
He also said that the university was proud to be part of the team to explore engineering behaviours of peat soil and thus contribute to better construction practice on peat soil. He said peat soil in Malaysia covered about three million hectares or eight per cent of the country’s land area.
Although such areas were considered unfavourable sites for construction purposes, the country could not forever avoid developing them, he added.
Sarawak Minister of Environment and Public Health Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh acknowledged that there was a need for more research into peat soil.
He said the research could focus on how best such soil condition could be used for the construction of buildings and roads, as well as for agricultural purposes, without the structures sinking into the ground or getting damaged later.
Wong said Sibu was an ideal place for research as it had the largest area of peat soil in the state. Some 250 students, researchers and developers attended the seminar jointly organised by Recess, UTHM, Sarawak PWD, United College Sibu, Institute of Engineers Malaysia Sarawak branch (Sibu region) and the Sibu Municipal Council. — Bernama