"The solution to fundamental problems is not just fighting fires. We must find the solution so the problems will not continue like this every year," the President said on the yard of the Riau governors official residence here on Sunday morning.
Fighting fires would never solve the cause of land fires which were deliberately set by irresponsible persons, he said.
In a short dialog with Riau Governor Annas Maamun, Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Syamsul Maarif, Minister/State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi, and Coordinating Minister for Peoples Welfare Agung Laksono, the President said he wanted to get first-hand information from local residents affected by haze caused by forest and plantation fires.
"I want to hear what the local residents have looked at and heard of. This way we may hear what has really happened. Dont bring them to us but we must visit them," he said.
President Yudhoyono arrived at Roesmin Nurjadin Airport in Pekanbaru on Saturday evening after making a stopover in Batam due to low visibility in the Riau provincial capital.
Shortly after arriving in Pekanbaru, the President met with personnel of integrated emergency operations to tackle land fires in the province.
To conduct the operations, two battalions of troops from the Marine Corps and the Air Forces Special Forces (Kopaskhas), plus personnel from the Air Defense Artery Unit, equipped with 11 Hercules C-130 planes have been readied.
The government has decided to launch three-week integrated operations which focus on arresting suspects in forest and plantation fires, providing health services to affected residents and fighting fires.
The President had originally been planned to take leave early this week to campaign for his Democrat Party in the runup to the April 9 legislative election. But on Friday (March 14) he cancelled the leave and instead traveled to Riau along with the alarming level of haze disaster in the province. ***1***
Reporting by GNC Aryani
(T.SYS/A/S012/B003) 16-03-2014 15:16:04