Landslide nation, Malaysia ranks highly for landslides


We’re a country with the 10th highest number of landslides in the world. Heavy rainfall and rugged topography are the reasons – but these are secondary. The main cause is man-made.

 

Malaysia among countries especially prone to landslides

Malaysia sits among the top 10 countries that had a high number of landslides over the past decade.

According to data from the US National Aeronautics Space Administration (Nasa), Malaysia had 171 landslides between 2007 and March 2016, making the country ranked the 10th highest in frequency of landslides.

Ranked first is the United States (2,992), followed by India (1,265) and China (426).

Titled the Global Landslide Catalog (GLC), the one-of-its-kind dataset was compiled based on online and media reports, and scientific journals since 2007.

The Star analysed the dataset and found that the number of landslides have been increasing in Malaysia, almost with each year, reaching a peak of 33 occurrences in 2014.

On average, in the past 10 years, Malaysia experienced 18.5 landslides annually.

The high number of landslides means that Malaysia ranked 5th for landslides per square kilometre among countries that have a land area greater than 100,000sq km.

Nepal is the country with the highest number of landslides per square kilometre, followed by the Philippines, Britain and Guate­mala.

Most of Malaysia’s landslides occur between October and January, which coincides with the months with the highest rainfall. This is according to data on average monthly rainfall between 1991 and 2015 from the World Bank.

Sabah leads with the most number of landslides (42), followed by Kuala Lumpur (26), Sarawak (25), Selangor (22) and Penang (14).

Latitude and longitude data point towards certain areas that landslides commonly occur. These include Ranau in Sabah, Ringlet in Cameron Highlands, Bukit Antarabangsa in Selangor and Tanjung Bungah in Penang.

Nasa’s satellite view showed that most landslide occurrences in Malaysia are packed around the peninsula’s west coast, and Sabah and Sarawak.

Hardly any red dots could be seen in the Kalimantan region, south of Sabah and Sara­wak, which could indicate that the landslides are caused by over-development.

Based on Nasa’s GLC website, since 2007, it has recorded some 10,000 landslides around the world, leading to more than 20,000 deaths, mostly in South-East Asia.

Data on Malaysia showed that most landslide fatalities are in Kuala Lumpur (18), followed by Pahang (17) and Selangor (eight).

The GLC project, first published in 2010, was to provide scientists with a dataset to analyse how, why and where landslides are likely to occur.

It remains the largest publicly available repository of global landslides.

According to the Meteorological Department, the country will be experiencing the northeast monsoon until the end of March, with heavy rains forecast along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, eastern Johor and Pahang.

A higher than average rainfall level of between 250mm and 350mm is also forecast for certain places in Sabah such as Kudat and Sandakan. In Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, Bintulu and Kapit are forecast to receive an average rainfall level that exceeds 500mm.

‘Main cause is man-made’

Malay­sia’s rugged topography and high rainfall coupled with human activities are behind the country being among the top 10 countries with the most number of landslides.

Institute of Geology spokesman Ng Chak Soon said Nasa’s data was correct.

“This is due to a combination of natural factors and human activities. Natural factors comprise periods of high rainfall and rugged topography while human activities relate to the cutting of slopes,” he said in an interview.

Asked if the high frequency could also be due to the type of soil in Malaysia, Ng said this was true only for Sabah such as in Ranau.

“Sabahan soil seems to have a high percentage of expandable clay which absorbs more water and expands more when wet. It shrinks when dry,” he said, adding that earthquakes were also a new factor in the state.

Not a country with typhoon or volcanic eruptions, Ng said the country’s only threat came from landslides.

“And, this is mostly man-made.

“Practically every major landslide in this country is linked to engineering works where slopes have been cut or built or filled with material,” he said.

To a question whether Malaysia had to change its type of development work such as slope cutting to reduce landslides, Ng said: “Apart from the coastal plains, most of our country is hilly.

“That means slope cutting is inevitable.”

He said there was a lack of in-depth understanding of the underlying factors behind landslides among “experts” in the country.

Whenever a slope failed as part of engineering works, he said it was engineers who looked into the causes of failures or what could have been overlooked, overestimated or underestimated in their calculations.

“It is unfortunate that most of these reports (into landslides) are not freely available for public scrutiny,” said Ng, adding that this made it difficult to identify the causes and to prevent similar mistakes from recurring.

He also claimed there was a lack of appropriate geological input in the study into the causes of landslides.

In many countries landslides come under the ambit of their geological survey departments.

“Malaysia is the exception where the Geoscience and Minerals Department is not playing this key role and there is a very good reason for this,” said Ng. “Landslide as a geological phenomenon is a topic under engineering geology which is itself a branch of geology.

“Landslides began to be considered a problem only after the collapse of the Highland Towers in 1993.

“So, it is relatively new in Malaysia.

“To really have a better understanding of why slopes fail, we have to get the geologists involved,” he said.

Penang Apartment dwellers live in fear

 

Cause for concern: A view of the construction site where the paired road project is being built in Paya Terubong.

GEORGE TOWN: For the first time in the 10 years that he has stayed in his apartment near the Bukit Kukus paired road project, 62-year-old S. Santhara is worried.

That was where nine people died due to a landslide last month.

The retired fireman never had to worry about landslides because the hills behind his apartment in Paya Terubong were covered with trees.

“We knew the hills facing our block would not crumble as the trees held down the soil,” he said.

That was before the hills were cleared for the construction of the paired road project.

“As they started to clear the hills near my home last year, I worried about the stability of the slopes and whether there would be a landslide.

“Then, the Tanjung Bungah landslide occurred in October 2017 and I fear this place could be next,” he said.

On Oct 19, the landslide at the construction site for the paired road hit 12 containers that housed construction workers.

Besides the foreign workers who were killed after being buried alive, four others were injured.

The Tanjung Bungah landslide that struck the site of an affordable housing project in Lengkok Lembah Permai killed 11 workers, including a Malaysian.

A special committee, set up by the Penang state government, will begin investigations into the cause of the Nov 8 landslide at the Bukit Kukus project site in Paya Terubong.

Inquiry into the Tanjung Bungah landslide has yet to be completed.

The Bukit Kukus landslide, said Santhara, had taken place right behind the hill facing his apartment block.

Now, he said it was worrying whenever it rained.

“Anything can happen at any time. If I have the opportunity, I will move out,” he said at his home.

Already, he said, there was landslip on parts of the hill after the trees were cleared.

“There was erosion. It (the hill) has now been covered with sheets but we still worry when it rains.

“During rainfall, a lot of mud water wash down and drains overflow, spilling onto the road,” he said.

On the day of the landslide, K. Kalaiselvan, 43, who lives on the 18th floor of an apartment in the vicinity, heard a loud crash.

“It sounded like rocks and sand falling. Later, I realised it was a landslide.

“I am worried we could be next,” he said, adding that the slopes were bare and threatening.

“I run a coffee shop and have lived here for the past 15 years. This is my home.

“As I live on a really high floor, it is worrying whenever it rains,” he said.

Engineers: Put plan for a centralised agency into motion

PETALING JAYA: Set up a centra­lised national agency to really control slope safety, suggests the Institution of Engineers.

Its president David Lai (pic) said IEM had proposed the setting up of such a body years earlier and hoped that the government would look into this urgently.

“We had actually put in a position paper in 2002 on the classification of slopes into four categories according to the height and angle of the slope.

“We also had an update on the policy in 2009,” he said in an interview, adding that the two papers were conveyed to the Housing and Local Government Ministry that looked into building by-laws.

“We are still actively pursuing this matter,” said Lai.

He said there should also be a slope information management system put in place to identify risky zones.

“The government must take the lead in coming up with such a system. We can give recommendations but the government is the statutory body,” said Lai.

He was responding to Nasa data that put Malaysia among the top 10 countries with the most frequent landslides in the world between 2007 and 2016.

Lai said Malaysia should learn from Hong Kong which had to deal with several landslides in the 1980s until it set up a geo office.

“From then, they started to repair the old slopes and impose new guidelines. Now, they have managed to control slope failure,” he said.

He said IEM, which had some 48,000 members, had put in a recommendation that for development on critical slopes between 25° and more than 35° angle, there should not only be a submissions engineer but also a geo-technical specialist to check on the design.

Asked if there was a need for engineers to change their designs such as cutting or fortifying the slopes, Lai said: “We actually don’t need to change.

“We just need to make sure to put in place the required safety procedures.

“We just need to get the correct people and whether all these procedures have been implemented.”

He added that enforcement was a necessity.

He said with more hillside development, there was a need now for specialised geo-technical engineers, who knew soil conditions and behaviour, and incorporate this into slope design.

PWD working to keep landslides down

The Public Works Department (PWD) has been carrying out landslide prevention works on slopes along federal and state roads beginning this year.

The works, undertaken by its Slope Engineering Branch, will go on until 2020.

Among the measures being undertaken include evaluation, danger and risk mappings, and setting up of an early warning, real-time system for landslides.

Its director Zulkifly A. Ghani said the prevention works also included fortifying high-risk slopes along federal roads.

“For slopes along federal reserve and state roads, monitoring is being carried out by the district PWD via the visual method, such as site visits and inspections,” he said in an interview.

Zulkifly was responding to a question on the action taken by the department to monitor the slopes, particularly during the rainy season.

Last year, former works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said 946 of the 16,454 slopes along federal roads in Peninsular Malaysia were classified as “very high hazard” while 1,551 others were “high hazard”.

Zulkifly concluded this with the latest technology of Light Detection and Ranging and drones.

“The Early Warning System is being developed,” he said.

Zulkifly said the EWS was being developed using monitoring techniques such as rain gauge, robotic total stations as well as the Global Navigation Satellite System.

“The equipment will continuously monitor any slope movement and the data transmitted to a server for analysis and displayed on a special website.

“Should the movement reach the danger limit, it will send a message to the officer via SMS. The officer will then decide what to do,” he said.

Forty-eight rain gauges had been installed at risky slopes.

“The real time warning limit is displayed on a special early warning website for landslides, which however is still being developed and improved on by the branch,” he said.

Source: The Star by Sim Leoi Leoi, Adrian Chan, and N. Trisha

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Are you overpaying your property maintenance fee?


A property, no matter how great-looking it is, is only as good as its management and maintenance. It will look clean and polished when it is new but the good news is, it can still look as good even as it ages.

According to the Strata Management Act 2013 (SMA 2013) which came into effect in June 2015, a strata owner or occupier needs to pay a monthly maintenance fee or service charge to the Joint Management Body (JMB) or Management Corporation (MC) which will be used to manage and maintain the common property of the development.

Other than the maintenance fee, strata owners are also required to contribute to the sinking fund which is normally at the rate of 10% of the total amount of charges.

“A sinking fund is a reserve fund collected from the strata owner for future expenditure which is typically less predictable and cost a lot more than the usual maintenance fee. The sinking fund is usually used for large scale repairs such as a painting job or refurbishment of the interiors of common facilities,” says Chur Associates managing director Chris Tan.

However, some owners may feel that the maintenance fee is too much. But how much is too much? How is the fee amount calculated or set? Is there a formula or a guideline?

Formula to derive the share units

Under the SMA 2013 and Strata Titles Act 1985 (STA), a residential or commercial unit is technically known as a parcel and each parcel has a share value that is expressed in whole numbers under the STA.

“Upon the approval of computation and allocation of share units prepared by the licensed land surveyor, the director of Land and Mines will issue the Certificate of Share Unit. To derive the share units in a strata scheme, there is a standard formula under the Fourth Schedule of the Strata Titles Rules 2015,” explains Burgess Rawson Malaysia managing director Wong Kok Soo.

The standard formula for maintenance fee:

Refer to Table A for an example of how the share unit is derived for an apartment parcel.

What does the maintenance fee cover?

The MC chairman of Sri Penaga, one of Bangsar’s oldest condominiums, Khaw Chay Tee shares with EdgeProp.my that one of the biggest components in the operations expenditure of a residential condominium is security, followed by the property management staffing and cleaning.

“Normally these components make up 50% of your service charge. So at the end of the day, it really boils down to how well-managed that property is. If you are able to manage the property well, then you can keep the cost reasonable. There are some condominiums where the MC likes to carry out projects which incur costs, but that is a separate matter. As each condominium differs in its number of facilities and the density of the development, it is not so easy to compare and ask why this condominium in Bangsar is different from that condominium in Bangsar,” says Khaw.

Knight Frank senior executive director Kuruvilla Abraham concurs that the service charge will vary depending on the service level the JMB or MC requires.

“One can find cheaper options for the various services required which no doubt will result in lower service charges. However, don’t expect good service levels. The right thing to do is to get value-for-money services that commensurate with the expected service levels,” he says.

It also depends on the design of the development, he adds.

“The development with a reasonable number of facilities and a greater number of units will generally pay a lower proportion of service charge compared to one with similar facilities but with lower density.”

Furthermore, developments with more facilities such as fountains, gardens or swimming pools would naturally command a higher fee as more maintenance is needed.

When it comes to maintenance, the level of quality is subjective, reminds Chur Associates’ Tan. Hence, questions often arise on whether what they are paying is actually put to good use.

Kuruvilla points out that he has yet to come across a developer that has charged parcel owners more than what they are supposed to pay. (Photo by Knight Frank)

“What is the definition of “clean” to you? For some, clean means I don’t see any rubbish. For others, it means it has to be squeaky clean and sparkling. We cannot even come up with an industrial standard for door size and window size, how do we even budget the cleaning cost then? If I were the cleaning company, how would I charge you if your windows are bigger than others? Do I charge more? Or can I say the unit price is RM2 per window per cleaning [regardless of size]?” Tan questions.

He adds that the priorities of residents in different projects mean the maintenance fee charged for each development would be different.

“Some residents place a lot of emphasis on security, so they would rather [the JMB or MC] spend more money hiring guards from a prestigious company while there may be some who think that [the JMB or MC] should spend the money to clean the swimming pool daily because they use it often,” he explains.

Wong: To derive the share units in a strata scheme, there is a standard formula under the Fourth Schedule of the Strata Titles Rules 2015. (Photos by Low Yen Yeing/EdgeProp.my)

The problem with a low maintenance fee

The Malaysian Institute of Property and Facility Managers (MIPFM) president Sarkunan Subramaniam tells EdgeProp.my that problems often arise when the property developers set a lower-than-normal maintenance fee in the initial period to induce sales.

“During the first two years, the equipment is still under the defects and liability period, so if say, the swimming pool has an issue, you can just call the technician to come over for free. However, when the JMB or MC takes over when the warranty period has passed, cost will start to be incurred,” says Sarkunan.

Under the STA 2013, developers are not supposed to pass on any deficits or liabilities to the JMB and MC.

Chur Associate’s Tan says problems can also crop up later when a developer designs a very over-the-top facility or development but prices the property at a low selling price, hence attracting the wrong user/buyer profile to the project.

Sarkunan: Problems often arise when the property developers set a lower than normal maintenance fee in the initial period to induce sales.

“If I ask you what you want in your development, you will surely say you want everything. But nobody tells you that in order to have everything, moving forward, the monthly contribution will be higher. When the entry point is low, everybody wants to buy but nobody thinks about the maintenance fee in future.

“On many occasions, it is not about who gives the best facility but who is paying for it. Are you going to use it? How often do you go to your condo’s gym or would you rather go to a gym outside? Why? Maybe because you have your own personal trainer or you don’t want to be seen by your neighbour. So are we overdesigning and overproviding?” Tan questions.

In accordance with the Strata Management Act 2013 (Act 757) (SMA), developers shall hand over the maintenance and management of the strata development (common property) to the JMB not later than 12 months of vacant possession or the MC, should the strata titles be issued and transferred to the purchasers, whichever is earlier.

The items developers are required to hand over include the list of assets, fixtures and fittings, as-built plans, operation manuals as well as the audited accounts of the service charges, deposits and sinking fund as prescribed under the SMA via Form 4 (for JMB) and Form 13 (for MC).

The JMB and MC can then decide by votes or by appointing a registered property management company to suggest an amount for the maintenance fee.

“The owner has the right to request to see the accounts during the Annual General Meeting related to expenditure and raise the matter during the meeting,” says Knight Frank’s Kuruvilla.

However, he points out that he has yet to come across a developer that has charged the parcel owners more than what they are supposed to pay. In fact, the chances are higher that due to non-payment, the management account is likely to be in deficit resulting in there being insufficient funds to carry out proper maintenance and management of the development.

The problem with strata living is, everybody wants to have a well-maintained place to live but not everyone is prepared to pay for it.

“This is why the government passed the Strata Management Act 2013 (and Acts before this) so that after one year post development, it will give the parcel purchasers/proprietors the opportunity to manage the property and thereby giving them an understanding by getting first-hand knowledge in what it takes to maintain and manage a development well. Until one is directly involved, one will not be able to appreciate why service charges have to be paid on time to ensure there is sufficient funds to pay for the maintenance and management of the development.”

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my pullout on Nov 30, 2018. You can access back issues here..
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Road shoulder at Paya Terubong collapses after downpour terrifying motorists


 
The road shoulder along Jalan Paya Terubong that caved in after a downpour today
Another view of the collapsed section of the road connecting Air Itam and Relau.

Road users fear landslip that killed nine nearby may affect safety of route

GEORGE TOWN: The landslip along Jalan Paya Terubong near Majestic Heights apartments is causing worry among thousands of motorists using the route to work daily.

They are worried if the incident, which occurred after several hours of heavy rain, would pose a danger to them.

The motorists use this hillside road to get to Relau and Bayan Lepas from Ayer Itam and Paya Terubong.

The affected stretch goes past the Jalan Bukit Kukus highway construction site where a landslide on Oct 19 killed nine foreigners.

It is only a few hundred metres away from the tragic site.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the state authorities would not close the road as the soil erosion did not pose any danger to road users.

“All motorists and motorcyclists can still use the road safely without concern.

“The hillside area where the soil erosion occurred was already undergoing repairs prior to the incident.

“The contractor in charge will continue to oversee and restore the affected hillside area,” he said.

Zairil said apart from the restoration project, Tenaga Nasional Bhd was also carrying out rewiring works nearby.

“For the time being, the rewiring works have been halted and all power supply has been cut,” he said.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh advised Paya Terubong residents to avoid using the road if possible.

“Yes, we know how vital the road is especially for those who work in the Bayan Lepas factories,” he said.

Without this connection to Bayan Lepas, the residents of Paya Terubong and Ayer Itam will have to use Jalan Masjid Negeri to reach Bayan Lepas. This route takes longer and is time-consuming.

Jalan Masjid Negeri can see a bumper-to-bumper crawl during rush hour with motorists travelling from other parts of George Town to the island’s south.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Che Zaimani Che Awang said the police were keeping the road under close observation.

Meanwhile, police have finished their investigation on the Jalan Bukit Kukus landslide and the report will be referred to the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s office.

Penang police chief Comm Datuk Seri A. Thaiveegan said they submitted the report yesterday.

It was reported that police had recorded statements from almost 70 witnesses in its investigation on the landslide for criminal negligence.

Apart from the nine foreigners who were killed, four others also sustained injuries in the incident.- The Star

 

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Residents fear closure of vital link – Nation

 

Road shoulder at Paya Terubong collapses after downpour …

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Separate role for property managers


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managers and Facility Managers (MIPFM) is suggesting property and facility management to be treated independently from valuation.

President Sarkunan Subramaniam said the bias towards valuers had to stop if property management is to progress in today’s fast-changing digital and technology capabilities.

“I urge the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers to reconsider its decision and listen to the professional bodies.

“Giving a property management licence to one who has no or little experience in property management is dangerous,” he said.

Sarkunan was speaking at the MIPFM Conference 2018 on Bridging Property Management and Facility Management.

He said the current real estate degrees are skewed towards valuation subjects. Those who trained in predominantly valuation-based companies have little to no experience in managing properties.

Government valuers, having passed valuers test, are automatically handed the property management licence.

Sarkuanna, himself a valuer, is calling for objectivity. He said the diverse range of office buildings, mixed integrated projects and stratified residential projects must be matched with parallel top grade maintenance. Or their value may suffer.

“I will get a lot of opposition for my views but this is for the good of the real estate sector,” he said.

Sarkunan also highlighted the rife corruption in this field. “Corruption in procurement, kickbacks and side money is so prevalent that it has rusted performance, bringing many buildings to a grinding halt,” he said.

Sarkunan related the tale of two office blocks in Bangsar where seven out of its nine management committee (MC) members have resigned, the chairman among them.

Those who resigned were from Tower A, which the developer had earlier sold to private individual owners. Tower B belonged to the developer who had put the building under a real estate investment trust.

There was a cash surplus in the accounts. It seems that during the period when the developer was managing the property, the developer apportioned all surplus monies collected to the tower they retained. When the MC took over, it faced a defiant developer.

The Commissioner of Buildings has directed an extraordinary general meeting to be held.

In another case, a developer refused to pave the way for a joint management body (JMB) to be formed because it wanted to control the money collected, Sarkunan said. COB stepped in to resolve the issue.

Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar said fraud and corruption is common due to the variety of goods and services involved.

Satar said that in 2010, Palm Court Condominium residents alleged that about RM144,000 was misappropriated. The committee agreed to take “appropriate measures” but refused an independent audit.

On Jan 31, 2017, members of a JMB were arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly misappropriating RM1.5mil.

Satar said cases like these highlighted the need for a culture of integrity and transparency.

– The Star by Thean Lee Cheng

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By-laws governing strata property in Malaysia, part 3

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Action taken over irregularities at Bukit Kukus paired road project Penang


https://youtu.be/dMF95t2gXzg

Special task force formed to probe landslide

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has formed a special investigative committee to probe the landslide at the Bukit Kukus Paired Road construction site in Paya Terubong.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said preliminary reports by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the Drainage and Irrigation Department showed there were elements of non-compliance in construction procedures carried out at the site.

He said the committee would be led by Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman, with State Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari as a member and an engineer from the state secretary’s office.

“Relevant agencies, contractors, sub-contractors and independent checking engineers involved in the project will be questioned,” he said during a press conference in his office at Komtar yesterday.

Chow said this was a separate investigation from the compulsory investigations carried out by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health and Construction Industry Development Board among other relevant agencies.

Once investigations are complete, Chow said the findings would be brought to the Board of Engineers Malaysia, an agency under the Works Ministry that monitors and regulates engineers.

“MBPP is not involved in the investigation as it is the project owner,” said Chow.

Action taken over irregularities at paired road project, says Zairil

A special task force detected several irregularities when conducting spot checks at the Bukit Kukus Paired Road project site earlier this month.

State Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the task force, formed under the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Committee (Ops Lumpur), was to check for compliance under the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan (ESCP).

“On Oct 8, a team led by the Drainage and Irrigation Department found sediments in a pond and irregularities in the check dams.

“The stockpiles were not maintained well and could affect the flow of Sungai Relau during heavy rain, causing mud floods, he told reporters in Komtar yesterday.

Zairil said as per the standard operating procedure, the Ops Lumpur team issued a letter to the consultant of the project, demanding that mitigation measures be taken within 14 days.

“On Oct 12, the findings of Ops Lumpur were reported to the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Committee and the next day, an initial stop-work order was issued by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) following the beam collapse.

“A full stop-work order was issued by DOSH on Oct 17,” he said.

Zairil said on Sept 28, his office received a report on the concerns over hill-clearing activities in Penang from the Penang Hills Watch, and replied to them on Oct 4.

“I was concerned about the complaints, as erosion and sedimentation would indeed cause bottlenecks in the rivers downstream, especially during the rainy season.

“Claims that the complaints were not attended to are untrue. In fact, action was taken immediately,” he said adding, “The cause of the Bukit Kukus landslide must be uncovered.”

Separately, Zairil said 17 slopes in the state were under repair and RM10mil had just been approved by the state government. – The Star

Giant pillars a reminder of Bukit Kukus tragedy

Impossible to ignore : The large concrete pillars that remain standing at the Bukit Kukus landslide site in Paya Terubong.

GEORGE TOWN: A row of giant concrete pillars soaring high into the sky serves as a reminder of the landslide tragedy which claimed nine lives at the Bukit Kukus Paired Road project in Paya Terubong.

The tallest of them stands at about 20 storeys and remains perched between the hills where soil erosion brought down 13 containers housing the ill-fated foreign workers last Friday.

Before the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Department (DOSH) gives the all clear for the project to resume, most of the workers at the site have remained while a few moved out to look for temporary work.

A Bangladeshi worker who declined to be named was seen carrying a cardboard box containing his personal belongings to another construction site nearby.

“The boss said there is no more work here, so I contacted my friend who recommended me for another job. I will be staying at his place.

“Once this project resumes, I shall come back,” the 30-year-old said.

At the site, rubble was scattered all over the 9,290 sq m site with the 13 green containers salvaged by cranes left in a corner.

The last foreign worker to be found was 33-year-old Bangladeshi Mohamad Uzzaal. He was pinned under a container and rescuers had to dig 10m to extricate the body.

At the height of the ops, two cadaver dogs were despatched to the scene to search for bodies while two other sniffer dogs were there to locate survivors.

A small open area beside a farm further up the hill above the site where photographers and videographers camped for five days to capture the ongoing rescue operation remains cordoned off.

On Monday, the media was taken on a tour of the site after the search and rescue operation, involving over 100 rescue personnel, was called off.

The water in the stream, which looked like teh tarik on Friday, was crystal clear now after its flow on top of the hill was diverted.

Even as the ops ended and all the missing foreign workers had been located, residents living nearby raised their concerns over the project.

Technician Tan Keng Wee, 36, hoped that the project would continue since most of it had already been done, but wanted better safety measures in place at the site.

“The traffic in Paya Terubong during peak hours is chaotic due to the narrow road passing by the hills. We need the new elevated road bypass but please make sure it is safe,” he said.

Food stall operator Mohd Subri Noor, 52, also shared his concern.

“I’m worried as many landslides have happened here. Many of them could have been prevented,” he said.

The RM530mil alternative road linking Lebuhraya Thean Teik in Bandar Baru Air Itam to Lebuh Bukit Jambul began in January 2016.- The Star

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Engineering Consultant gets show-cause letter for ‘overlooking hilltop stream”, the main cause for landslide


Video:   https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpenangforum%2Fvideos%2F1940631839359002%2F&show_text=0&width=640

Consultant gets show-cause letter for ‘overlooking hilltop stream’

GEORGE TOWN: The consultant of the Bukit Kukus Paired Road project has been slapped with a show-cause letter for allegedly overlooking a stream on top of the hill before commencing work.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the stream had been blocked, and this could be the main cause for the landslide on Friday.

“We found the stream on top of the hill on Saturday morning.

“You don’t need an expert to tell you that a diversion was needed in this situation before starting work on the hill.

“For me, this (the blocked stream) could be the main cause for the landslide,” he said at the site in Paya Terubong yesterday

The contractor has since diverted the flow of water

Yew also said stern action would be taken if professional negligence was found to be the cause once the investigation was completed

“This is a straightforward engineering project that needs to comply with standard operating procedure.

“We want to know why the need to divert the water was overlooked. I believe the tragedy could have been prevented,” he added.

Asked about the project, Yew said it would go on.

“I hope the project will be completed on time and in proper order by 2020.”

The RM530mil alternative road linking Lebuhraya Thean Teik in Bandar Baru Air Itam to Lebuh Bukit Jambul began in January 2016.

So far, nine bodies have been recovered from the scene. They included Indonesian worker Subaeri, 34, found at about 12.45pm yesterday and Bangladeshi Muhammad Uzzal, 33, at 5pm.

Muhammad Uzzal is said to be without a valid working permit.

Firemen found his body pinned under a container and took about 40 minutes to extract it before sending it to the Penang General Hospital for a post-mortem. The bodies of Bangladeshi workers Mithu Hossain, 30, Mustak Hossain, 25, and Md Jalil, 34, were pulled out of the rubble on Sunday.

Hill stream overflowed – Heavy rain, water on slope cause of Bukit Kukus landslide

Rescue operations at Jalan Bukit Kukus Paya Terubong

GEORGE TOWN: Water flow from a stream on the hilly area at Jalan Bukit Kukus, Paya Terubong has been identified as among the causes of the landslide there last Friday, according to the Mineral and Geoscience Department.

The department’s director for Perlis, Kedah and Penang, Azhari Ahmad, said the finding was made based on its inspection and monitoring since yesterday.

“Our team, which arrived at the location yesterday morning, conducted an observation and identified several factors that caused the landslide, resulting in all containers on the hill slope to slide down with the earth.

“The main factor that caused the land slide is the water flow from a stream near the slope, and heavy rain since Friday morning caused the water to overflow,” he said.

The department had taken immediate measure by diverting the flow of water from the stream elsewhere to avoid worsening the situation, especially during the search and rescue (SAR) operation, he said.

Azhari said further inspection conducted at 7.30am yesterday found the water flow on the slope was less, but the department will continue to monitor the situation with the help of equipment from the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to ensure the safety of SAR personnel.

Based on observation and inspection at the scene, the department found the location of the landslide to be at the concave slope which easily collected water.

“But, we have not ruled out the possibility of follow-up landslides in the area due to the soil structure and there is still water flowing that can cause landslide.

“We have also advised the rescue team to stop operation immediately if it rains as it could cause another landslide.”

He said the department was assisting the rescue team in the SAR operation and did not rule out the possibility of it conducting further investigation to determine the actual cause of the landslide.

“We hope for fine weather and no rain so that the SAR operation can continue until all victims are found,” he said.

The tragedy occurred following heavy rain in the state since Thursday afternoon until noon the following day, causing the landslide at the container and kongsi area at the Bukit Kukus paired road construction site.

Two bodies were recovered on Friday, that of Indonesian national Samsul Asman, 19, and Bangadesh worker Attrul, 35, while the bodies of Myanmar woman Khin Aye Khaing, 33, and Indonesian Bahtiar, 36, were recovered yesterday at 1.30am and 11.55 am,  respectively. – Bernama

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New mode of public transport, the ART (Autonomous Rail-Rapid Transit) for Penang, wait no more !


ART – Can be completed within 1 year for Penang lang, wait no more ! 年内就可以通车。槟城人,要不要?!

The ART (Autonomous Rail-Rapid Transit) was nominated for an award in the “Beazley Designs of the Year 2017,” which was organized by London’s Design Museum to celebrate the world’s most innovative design ideas.

note: Autonomous rail-Rapid Transit (ART) costs 90% cheaper than LRT.

> 150 delegations from over 20 overseas cities have visited the project, its developer said.

自去年2017年6月发布以来,前来株洲所考察智轨列车的团体超过150批次,其中包括美国、英国、新加坡、新西兰、巴西等国家的20余个海外城市。

槟城,您还在等什么。还要LRT等七年,堵七年吗?


ART Intro Video

How trackless trams could revolutionise Perth’s public transport


Beautiful Malaysia

Georgetown, Malaysia

 

The panel answering questions at the public dialogue on the Penang Transport Master Plan last month (filepic).

New mode of public transport

GEORGE TOWN: The state government will look into Penang Forum’s suggestion of an Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) system as an alternative to the light rail transit (LRT).

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pic) said the state government was briefed by China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) on the new train system last week.

“ART is relatively new. CRCC presented the system to us with the same slides and video used by Penang Forum.

“It will not be fair for us to respond now as ART is new to us, but we are not ruling it out,” he said after the question-and-answer session of a public dialogue on the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) at Dewan Sri Pinang on Sunday.

“All this while, Penang Forum never mentioned ART. Before this, they spoke of trams,” Chow said, responding to the presentation made by Penang Forum member Dr Lim Mah Hui.

Chow added that in the video, the train was on a highway with eight to 10 lanes.

“Penang does not have that much road space,” he said.

ART is a rail-less system for urban passenger transport, similar to other guided busways.

Later, in a press conference, Chow said ART did not require an actual railway.

“It has rubber wheels running on roads. It is directed by a sensor system, installed along the road and can be dedicated or shared with other modes of transport.

“If it is dedicated, other measures need to be taken into consideration, like when it approaches an intersection, the traffic light must be programmed to give priority to ART.

“If not, then it is no different from a bus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship Organisation declared its support for the PTMP at the dialogue.

Its secretary-general John Ooh Sin Hwa said the transportation problem not only caused a daily inconvenience but had a negative impact on the state’s economic growth.

“We feel that the benefits and advantages outweigh negative implications.

“PTMP is a noble and sincere effort by the state government,” he said, adding that they would carry out a survey in rural areas and present the findings to the government. – The Star by tan sin chow and n. trisha

keen on ART system

PENANG Forum stands by its proposal for an autonomous rail rapid transit (ART) system instead of a tram system.

The group’s steering committee member Dr Lim Mah Hui said they were not ‘tram salesmen’ and that they made the suggestion based on the best mode of transportation implemented in other cities.

“Basically, the Halcrow proposal favours a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and tram system.

“And, it is only the suggestion of SRS Consortium that the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan should include an elevated Light Rail Transit (LRT).

“The state said they were not going for the trams because of the cable work needed but the LRT system would require digging and piling which would be more expensive and take a longer time,” said Dr Lim in an interview recently.

He urged the state government not to rush into implementing the LRT as it “might be obsolete in a few years”.

“Penang Forum was only made aware of the ART system a few months ago.

“Who knows what type of advanced public transportation system we might see in a few years?” he said, adding that there was a need for a financial comparison of the LRT, tram, BRT and ART systems.

When asked if Penang Forum would conduct a session to explain the ART system, Lim said he would discuss it with the committee.

He cited an article in The Sydney Morning Herald which called for an ART system to be implemented in Perth.

He said the article also claimed that trackless trams would be able to avoid the worst features ofan light rail system in terms ofdisruption and costs.

The first trackless tram rolled out for a road test was in Zhuzhou, south China’s Hunan Province, on Oct 23, 2017.

Last month, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state would look into the suggestion to implement the ART system when the matter was raised during a question- and-answer session of a public dialogue on the Penang Transport Master Plan at Dewan Sri Pinang.

Chow said the state government was briefed by China Railway Construction Corporation on the new train system.

“The ART has rubber wheels running on roads.

“It is directed by a sensor system installed along the road and it can be dedicated or shared with other modes of transport,” he said. – The Star by Intan amalina mohd ali

 

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