Singapore unlikely to experience transboundary haze from hot spots detected in 4 Indonesian provinces

Groundwater is used to help put out a peat-land fire in Pekanbaru, Riau province on Feb 1, 2018.
Groundwater is used to help put out a peat-land fire in Pekanbaru, Riau province on Feb 1, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Wednesday (Feb 21) said the likelihood is low of Singapore being affected by transboundary haze from Indonesia.

This comes as four Indonesian provinces declared disaster alert status, after a rise in the number of hot spots.

NEA said a total of five hot spots were detected in Sumatra and 73 in Kalimantan between last Friday and Tuesday.

"For this week and the next, the prevailing winds over the region are expected to continue to blow from the north-west or north-east," said NEA.

"The dry weather conditions are expected to gradually ease, and an increase of shower activities will help to subdue the hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan," it added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency, said in a press statement that Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan provinces have declared disaster alert status. The provinces are all located around the equator, with Riau being closest to Singapore.

The disaster alert status means that the national government in Jakarta will be able to step in more easily and with less red tape to deal with raging fires, deploy troops and provide logistics and funds.

Indonesian provinces located near the equator are now in their first phase of the dry season, which usually runs from early in the year to some time in March. The rainy season then sets in at these provinces in March and lasts till May before another, more intense dry season from June to September.