Pontianak residents exposed to thick smoke from wildfire

Pontianak residents exposed to thick smoke from wildfire

Thick smoke blanketing the areas of Pontianak, the capital city of West Kalimantan Province, on Tuesday morning (ANTARA/Dedi/RN)

Pontianak, W Kalimantan (ANTARA) - Several residents of Pontianak, the capital city of West Kalimantan Province, are left with no choice but to inhale the thick smoke arising from the wildfire on Tuesday morning.

Tomi, a resident of the Parit Mayor neighborhood area, admitted to breathing in the thick haze having a strong smell while heading to a mosque for performing Subuh, or the dawn prayer.

As a result of this condition, several residents expressed concern over the impact of this thick smog on their health and outdoor activities.

The haze, lofting through the areas of Pontianak, had also reduced visibility to some 150 and 200 meters, he stated, adding that he heard of cases of some of his friends suffering from respiratory infections owing to the smog, caused by the burning of forest and peatland areas.

The thick haze has been blanketing the areas of Pontianak and several other parts of West Kalimantan over these past few weeks as a result of wildfires at peatland areas as well as the slash and burn activities.

"I am still traumatized by the thick smoke as the ones that had occurred several years ago. I do not want this to recur," Tomi stated.

The thick haze, with a strong smell, shrouding the areas of Pontianak has forced the authority of the city's education and culture office to terminate school activities on Aug 13-14 to prevent smog exposure among the pupils of kindergartens and primary schools.

Smog arising from forest fires in West Kalimantan has also threatened business activities and prospects in the province, Chairman of the Indonesian Businessmen Association (Apindo) chapter in Pontianak Andreas Acui Simanjaya stated.

"The impact of haze has been huge, both on health and business. This necessitates attention from all parties," he had remarked last weekend.

Smog during every dry season has become a scourge since long, and it had yet to be tackled permanently, he stated.

"We only react when the condition is bad. Such repeated incidents have wasted significant amounts of energy of various parties that have to deal with it," he pointed out.

Simanjaya suggested two solutions to stop forest fires, the first being increasing public awareness to ensure that the practice of setting fires for land clearance is halted.

Second, legal enforcement must be imposed firmly to deter others from burning forest and peatland areas. Related news: BPBD confirms fires engulfed 10 hectares of West Kalimantan's peatland

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