Macau Opinion | Equipping people

The Macau SAR Government last week has introduced a series of measures to cope with the event of strong typhoons in the city.

These range from the construction of tidal gates in the Inner Harbour and the replacement of overhead cables of the Zhuhai electric power transmission channel to the city by underground cables – allowing greater reliability in the production energy – to the four time increase in the number of shelters.

Although some of the initiatives, such as the relocation of plumbing to create more space for the construction of rainwater drainage boxes was said to have been concluded, some of the works still need time to be implemented and developed.

Some of these concern infrastructure, such as the tidal gates or the additional sewage rainwater collection stations the government said it will implement in the Inner Harbour.

Such measures, applied to avoid or reduce the risk of flooding, are crucial in the long run, with the Inner Harbour being one of the most critical low areas of the city.

But it is unlikely that many of them will see the day for this year’s typhoon season, which specialists from the weather bureau claimed will be longer, with five to seven typhoons expected to hit.

The sewage collection stations, for instance, might no be finished before 2021. As for the tidal barrier, the Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On, stated also last week that it would entail “a great deal of work.”

Some of the latest projects which have required a great deal of work, such as the LRT or the public hospital of the islands, have not been completed in over ten years since they have been first announced. Considering the barrier would imply less work, although likely involve equally complex engineering expertise, we may be looking at a few years down the road until it is completed and operational.

In such scenario, it seems relevant that the government invests and applies its resources in preparing the population for the case of greater adversity.

Relying on a solid disaster response structure would be reassuring, but the full-fledged plan the government has rolled out will not be a matter of weeks to be functional.

At the current stage, abundant access to information and training at the individual level should be made available to better equip people to make right decisions when disaster strikes, thus, enhancing credibility in the system.