personal capacity: I wish to comment on the press statement by Jagdeep
Singh Deo as reported in Berita Daily and many other newspapers on 24
|Sponge City: Solutions for China’s Thirsty & Flooded cities|
“Only about 20~30% of rainwater infiltrates the ground in urban areas, so it breaks the naturual water circulation.– Wen Mei Dubbelaar”
Last week, it was the turn of Petaling Jaya, Gombak and Sungai Buloh to be the latest major urban areas in Malaysia to suffer flash floods (Flash floods wreak havoc in PJ – Nation). Scenes of cars and buildings submerged in muddy water are now almost an everyday thing. The focus should now shift from the bad situations to the solutions.
It was also last week that I attended a briefing organised by civil society groups for Penang and Seberang Perai municipal officials and members. The briefing was on the recent floods.
Later, I came across several articles on how China is turning 30 of its flood-prone areas into “sponge cities” to prevent floods and retain rainwater.
The Chinese plan big and fast. It launched the sponge city project only in 2015, but it aims to retain 70% of rain in 80% of urban areas by 2020. The sponge concept is set to spread rapidly as part of global efforts to reduce the impact of increased rainfall and floods, and climate change.
The concept figured prominently at the briefing chaired by Penang state exco member Chow Kon Yeow. Scientist Dr Kam Suan Pheng introduced it when explaining the floods.
She contrasted the present situation when rain falls with what used to happen. In the past, 50% of the rain seeped through the natural ground cover (trees, grass, etc) and into the ground. There was 10% water runoff (to rivers and drains) and 40% evapotranspiration (water going back to the atmosphere).
The trees and green spaces act as a sponge to absorb the rainwater that infiltrates the soil, preventing the water from building up into flash floods.
Due to urbanisation, the green spaces have been paved over with cement and concrete. Now, only 15% of the rain infiltrates the soil, while the runoff has increased to 55% and evapotranspiration is 30%. The sponge now absorbs 15% of the rainwater compared to the previous 50%.
Dr Kam quoted former Penang Water Authority general manager Kam U-Tee as saying that the October 2008 Penang floods were caused by conversion of the valleys into “concrete aprons that do not retain water”. As a result, the water immediately flowed into streams, causing flash floods, even with moderate rainfall.
Given this analysis, a key part of tackling the floods is to reverse the loss of the sponge. In recent decades, Malaysia has seen the conversion of a lot of farms, parks, trees and grass areas into concrete jungles of roads, houses, commercial buildings and car parks.
There now has to be high sensitivity to the valuable environmental and economic roles of trees, gardens, fields and grasslands, and parks. The aim of garden cities is not just to be pleasing to the eye but to be a very important part of development as well.
Now comes the role of sponge cities. The world is applauding the Chinese initiative to counter floods and improve water security by building up the natural cover (or sponge) in its cities.
In 2010, landslides during flooding killed 700 in three quarters of China’s provinces. Last year, rains flooded southern China, destroying homes and killing around 60 people.
In 2015, China launched the Sponge City initiative, which now covers 30 cities, including Shanghai, Xiamen and Wuhan. The target: by 2020, 80% of its urban areas will absorb and re-use 70% of rainwater.
The many types of projects include:
“In the natural environment, most precipitation infiltrates the ground or is received by surface water, but this is disrupted when there are large-scale hard pavements,” said Wen Mei Dubbelaar, water management director at China Arcadis, in words similar to Dr Kam’s.
“Now only about 20-30% of rainwater infiltrates the ground in urban areas, so it breaks the natural water circulation and causes water logging and surface water pollution,” said Wen in an interview with The Guardian.
In Shanghai’s Lingang district, the streets are built with permeable pavements. There are rain gardens filled with soil and plants, buildings feature green rooftops and water tanks, and a manmade lake controls water flows, reports The Guardian.
Prof Hui Li at Tongji University said the first thing is to preserve or restore natural waterways as that is the natural way to reduce flooding risk.
The problem in Wuhan is that a lot of small rivers were filled in during building. But Lingang still has agriculture land and a lake to hold more water during heavy rain.
What about the cost factor? So far the cities have received over US$12bil (RM47.4bil) for sponge projects. The central government funds 15-20% of costs, and the rest is from local governments and private developers.
But compare this to the US$100bil (RM395bil) of direct economic losses due to floods in China between 2011 and 2014, plus the human lives lost.
Sponge cities are the way to go for the future. Our own governments – federal, state and municipal – should study this option seriously, as the public braces itself for more floods ahead.
– Global Trends by Martin Khor
Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.
PAC blamed Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for failing to enforce laws on hillside development
Becoming bald: A view of the clearing work seen at Bukit Relau which was visible from the Penang Bridge in November last year. GEORGE..
Speaking out: Penang Forum members protesting outside the CAP office in George Town. Don’t just make it about worker safety issues ..
Expert panel: (From right) Yeo, Dr Gue and Prof Ramli arriving for the inquiry.
GEORGE TOWN: A temporary structure supporting a worksite slope in Tanjung Bungah developed cracks in mid-June, a Commissioner of Inquiry heard.
Soil Mechanic Sdn Bhd director Cheah Wing How, who was a sub-contractor of the project where a landslide killed 11 workers, said he was informed by a clerk to carry out remedial works as the granite wall had cracked.
Cheah said his team left after completing the granite works and soil-nailing works to enhance the stability of the temporary slope.
There was, however, no mention when they completed the works.
“When we returned, we found there were pile cap excavation works carried out near the slope.
“We believe there was soil movement that resulted in the cracks on the granite wall.
“We were carrying out remedial works and 11 days into the job, the landslide happened,” said Cheah, who has 20 years’ experience in the field.
Cheah was testifying on the first day of the public hearing into the landslide tragedy by the State Commission of Inquiry (SCI) at City Hall in Esplanade yesterday.
On Oct 21, last year, a landslide hit the affordable condominium project made up of two 49-storey towers with 980 units in total within the Permai Village township near the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.
Among the 11 killed was site supervisor Yuan Kuok Wern, 27.
During the proceeding, the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) also presented eight drone videos that showed the slope and the surrounding area after the tragic incident.
SCI chairman Datuk Yeo Yong Poh said they planned to carry out a site visit tomorrow.
He also fixed the hearing to continue until Monday, followed by Feb 8 to Feb 11, March 24 to March 28 and April 18 to 25.
Other members of the commission are geotechnical expert Datuk Dr Gue See Sew and forensic geo-technical engineer from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Prof Ramli Nazir.
The SCI was gazetted on Dec 21 last year to investigate the landslide after Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Rahman Abbas gave his consent on Dec 6, 2017, for the appointment of the members of the commission and its terms of reference.
Meanwhile, Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group (Chant) adviser Yan Lee said the entrance to the Teik Granite Quarry, which is located near the site where the landslide occurred, should be fenced up.
“Anyone can just walk into the site as the safety measure is not up to mark.
“We have voiced our concern to the Penang Island City Council, the Department of Environment as well as the Land and Mines Department,” he said yesterday.
By Chong Kah Yuan and Jo-Leen Wong The Star
Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project. Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16′..
Turning a blind eye: The grumblings over exposed hills are growing louder but little is being done to rectify the situation
MY family home in Kampung Melayu, Air Itam in Penang, is more than 56 years old. That’s about my age, and it has never been hit by floods. Not once!
But last week, my parents – dad is 92 years old and mum, 86, – had their sleep rudely interrupted sometime after 1am by water gushing into their home.
They have been sleeping on the ground floor for years now because they are too old to climb the stairs to their bedroom.
The water that flowed into their room almost touched the top of their bed but fortunately, one of my nephews and his wife from Kuala Lumpur were staying over that night.
It was so fortunate that they were there to calm my anxious parents down and assure them all would be fine. They managed to comfort my stunned folks, who had never experienced such an unpleasant situation before. My father had to be carried to the room upstairs as the house remained flooded throughout the early morning.
Our home was filled with layers of mud the next day and the cars parked outside were all damaged. They sadly look like write-offs.
My father’s pride and joy, his first-generation Proton Saga car – which he bought in 1985 – is now unusable.
A week on, my brothers and nieces are still cleaning up the mess from the massive flood. They haven’t had the time or mood to even assess the financial losses.
And bound by a common sentiment as Penangites, they are tired of the blame game, a trade the state’s politicians have plied to near-perfection.
How many times can the finger be pointed at the previous government, with the incumbent almost 10 years in power? And how many more times can we blame it on torrential rain, which came from Vietnam – or wherever? Worst of all is, when discussions are mooted on flood issues, the voices of the people are swiftly silenced.
It appears that even to talk about hillslope development, one would have to contest in the elections, or be perceived to be challenging the state government, or more extremely, be some kind of lackey in cahoots with the Federal Government.
Blaming everyone else except oneself is simply a way of covering up one’s weaknesses. But the discerning public, in a maturing democracy with heightened transparency and a huge middle class like Penang, will not tolerate such short-term manoeuvring for long.
Suddenly, civil society – a buzzword among politicians – has vanished, with NGOs now regarded as irritants and an affront to the state establishment. Politics is apparently the monopoly of politicians now.
As the National Human Rights Society aptly puts it, “With the benefit of hindsight, we are sure that the Penang government now realises that they should not so readily malign civil society, howsoever obliquely – for the legitimate and well-founded articulation of matters of great concern to civil society.
“This is because it undermines the fundamental values of a functioning democracy and the fundamental human rights of the populace at large.”
Perhaps, the state political elites, many of whom aren’t pure blood Penangites, don’t realise the state is the home of a vibrant civil society, with many active NGOs and activists who are respected influencers of society.
Having walked through the corridors of power and appreciated power’s pleasures, perks and the adulation it brings, maybe it is becoming much harder for people to take criticism. This is, in fact, a reflection of the arrogance of power.
Many have developed thin skin now, with little tolerance for the slightest form of criticism. If anyone even dares raise their voice, an army of cybertroopers, hiding behind anonymity, are unleashed to attack them.
Freedom of speech, it seems, is only the domain of the opposition, with some media (regarded as unfriendly) unceremoniously ridiculed and questioned for their attendance at press conferences.
There are politicians from the Federal Government, too, who are shamelessly cashing in on the flood situation in Penang.
Their relief work must be splashed across news pages, and they have to be seen wading through the flood waters for dramatic purpose. Phua Chu Kang’s iconic yellow boots could likely be the hottest item in the state, as politicians bask in the media’s glare.
Ridiculous remarks have also been passed, one even blaming the state government, saying it has earned the wrath of God.
The rain and floods will go away, eventually. Penangites are stakeholders in the state, and they don’t only make up politicians. The state doesn’t belong to the state government or the opposition.
Caught up in the thick of the action, we seem to have forgotten that the hills are crumbling even without rain. As a stern reminder, just last month, a landslide buried some people in Tanjung Bungah. Investigations on that tragedy are still ongoing.
Basically, the trees – which act as sponge on the hills – are gone. We don’t need to be soil experts to know that.
The grumblings are growing louder because the hills have been progressively going bald in recent years. But the voice of discontent has fallen on deaf ears.
Penangites are alarmed at what they are seeing, and they don’t like it one bit, as much as they understand that land is scarce on the island and property developers need to source some to build homes on.
While it’s easy to hang the Penang state government out to dry for its follies, it’s difficult to ignore how the floods in the east coast states have become annual affairs, too. So, what effective flood mitigation plans have been put in place there?
Kelantan has suffered senselessly, and after more than a year of having been subjected to Mother Nature’s havoc, many victims have yet to recover from their losses. Flooding is obviously nothing exclusive and doesn’t discriminate. Every state has, unfortunately, experienced it in some shape or form.
So, irrespective of location, when life returns to normal, you can expect the politicians to resume their old denying ways.
If there’s a thread that binds our politicians – regardless of which side of the political divide they come from – it is their inability to apologise for their mistakes, despite waxing lyrical about accountability.
Don’t expect them to say sorry, because an apology would be admission of guilt, or worse, a sign of weakness in their realm of inflated egos.
And to put things into perspective, perhaps we could learn a lesson from a quote by prominent American pastor Andy Stanley – “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”
On the beat Wong Chun Wai
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.
On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project.
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active s..
Choong (in white) surveying the deforested hillslope next to Majestic Heights. PENANG MCA has raised concerns about the safety of the r..
AFTER two Category 5 hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) hit the US in October, followed by Maria hitting Puerto Rico, no one can deny that natural disasters are devastating.
With three hurricanes costing an estimated US$385bil, with less than half insured, the poor are suffering the most because they cannot afford to rebuild as the rich.
This year alone, monsoon floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have left millions homeless. This year will therefore break all records as Munich Re-insurance data suggests that 2016 natural disaster losses were only US$175bil, already 28.6% higher than the 30 years (1986-2015) annual average of US$126bil.
But how much of these natural disasters are man-made?
Despite US President Trump being sceptical of climate change, the US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Report published this month concludes that “it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”.
Carbon dioxide concentration already exceed 400 parts per million, last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today. Roughly one third of carbon emission is due to residential heating/cooling, one third for transport and one third for industrial production.
Human activities on Mother Earth include over-consumption of natural resources, cutting down forests, polluting waters and excessive cultivation/development that caused desertification or soil erosion. You see this from warmer surface and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and declining tree and fish stock.
Oceans warming up
Hurricanes are caused by oceans warming up, building energy and vapour levels that create freak typhoons, tornados and massive downpours. At the same time, droughts are also occurring with more frequency for longer.
Scientists estimate that global average sea level has risen by about 7-8 inches since 1900, with almost half that rise occurring since 1993. Everyday, we hear new extreme events, such as unusually heavy rainfall, heatwaves, large forest fires, floods or landslides.
Climate warming is most observable in the water-stressed Middle East and the North Africa/Sahel region, where rapid population growth created desertification, food shortages, civil conflicts and ultimately, outward migration towards cooler climates, especially Europe. This hot region accounts for 60% of global war casualties since 2000, with 10 million outward refugees. About 90% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers come from four regions with half under the age of 18 years.
A 2016 World Bank report estimated that these water-stressed countries’ GDP could be reduced by up to 6%, with dire consequences on stability. Without water, industries cannot function, food cannot be cultivated and health can deteriorate due to disease from water-shortage and drought.
European estimates suggest that each refugee costs roughly US$11,600 per person to maintain and there are already one million trying to enter Europe last year. The OECD has classified countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as extreme fragile.
The world is already reaching a critical turning point. If the Paris Climate Accord can be implemented, with or without the United States, there is some chance of averting further global warming.
But closer home, we are already witnessing the effects of climate change on our daily lives.
In 1972, Hong Kong experienced a devastating landslide near Po Shan Road in Mid-Levels, which caused 67 deaths and collapse of two buildings. One cause was unstable ground following heavy rainfall from Typhoon Rose eleven months prior to the incident.
This tragedy in densely populated Hong Kong resulted in rigorous slope protection and inspection of drains to ensure that these slips do not occur again. I lived near Po Shan Road and admired how Hong Kong engineers regularly inspected the slope protection measures and that the drains were always clear.
In 1993, the collapse of Highland Towers in Kuala Lumpur was partly attributed to the clearing of the hilltop above Highland Towers, which led to soil erosion and the weakening of the foundations. By the time the residents detected cracks in the buildings, it was already too late. Some of my personal friends were among the 48 persons who were killed in that collapse.
Last weekend, Penang (where I live) had the worst rainstorm and floods because we were hit by the tail end of strong winds from Typhoon Damrey, one of the strongest to hit Vietnam in 16 years, leaving 61 people dead. Driving along Penang Bridge, I can see that the continued hilltop developments in Penang are leaving soiled scars on the previously pristine landscape, I am reminded of Highland Towers and Po Shan incidents. Natural disasters are acts of god, but the size of their impact on human lives are completely within our control.
Soil erosion does not happen overnight, and require responsible developers and conscientious governments, as well as concerned citizens, to be continually vigilant that maintenance of roads and drains, including soil inspections, are serious business with serious consequences.
Modern technology can provide drones and inbuilt sensors that can detect whether erosion is reaching critical levels. Regular maintenance of drains and checks on stability of the soil, especially where there has been recent clearing of trees in steep slopes, will forewarn us all of impending accidents.
As cities are building more and more on hillsides subject to torrential rain, Penang should seek technical expertise from Hong Kong which has extensive expertise on the maintenance of steep hill slopes that are subject to typhoons and sudden rainfall.
Landslides are today used more in political terms than in real terms. The next time landslides happen, residents who watch daily the erosion of their natural environment will know who is really looking after their interests.
Becoming bald: A view of the clearing work seen at Bukit Relau which was visible from the Penang Bridge in November last year. GEORGE
Seeking solutions: Penang Forum member and soil expert Dr Kam Suan Pheng giving her views during the dialogue sessio
Speaking out: Penang Forum members protesting outside the CAP office in George Town. Don’t just make it about worker safety
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active
THE news has been full of the related issues of hill cutting, logging, landslides and floods. The environmental crisis is back in the public consciousness, and we should seize the moment to find solutions and act on them.
Penang has been the epicentre of this upsurge, for good reasons: the mega flash floods and landslides over the weekend and on Sept 15, and the Oct 21 hill slope collapse in Lembah Permai (Tanjung Bungah) which killed 11 employees at a construction site.
Saturday’s overwhelming floods in Penang, which paralysed the island in so many ways and affected lives, property and activities, was a megashock not only to people in the state but throughout the nation.
But it’s not just a Penang phenomenon.
On Oct 30, flash floods caused massive traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the floods were caused not only by heavy rain but by developers of two projects that had blocked drainage.
A stopwork order will be issued if the developers do not take measures specified by City Hall.
Another threat is the logging of valuable water catchment areas.
The Ulu Muda forest in Kedah, which provides much of the water supply to Kedah, Penang and Perlis, is under such a threat as the originally designated Ulu Muda water catchment area has shrunk by 87% from 98,400ha in 1969 to 12,484ha in 2017.
The forest reserve was the most important water catchment area in the Northern Corridor Economic Region but timber production there was growing because Kedah depended on logging as a source of income, said Penang Water Supply Corporation CEO Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa ( The Star, Oct 27).
He suggested that the federal government compensate Kedah for gazetting and preserving Ulu Muda as a water catchment area, noting that the Muda Dam provided 80% of the daily raw water needs for Kedah.
Jaseni issued this stark warning: when logging affects the Muda Dam’s ability to store sufficient water, all three states would face a water crisis in the next dry season.
In Penang, the debate on the floods and the tragic landslide has continued nonstop and moved last week to the State Assembly.
The clearest explanation of the worsening flood situation that I have heard was the presentation by scientist Dr Kam Suan Pheng at the Penang Forum event on Oct 29.
A former Universiti Sains Malaysia academic who then worked in international agencies including the International Rice Research Institute, Dr Kam said there were seven main causes of floods in Penang:
She provided historical and current data to show that flash floods are happening more frequently and with more adverse effects, even with lower rainfall levels. With higher rainfall expected in future, the situation can be expected to significantly worsen.
Dr Kam focused on expansion of impermeable surface area (caused by ill planned development and replacing natural ground cover such as hills, fields and trees that act as a water absorbing sponge) and soil erosion and landslides (caused by cutting and development in hill areas) as two factors that need special attention.
She quoted Datuk Kam U Tee, the Penang Water Authority general manager (1973~90), as having correctly explained the Penang floods of October 2008, as follows: the floods were caused by conversion of the Paya Terubong and Bayan Baru valleys into “concrete aprons that do not retain water. The water immediately flows into streams causing flash floods even with moderate rainfall. Because of hillcutting activities, the flowing water causes erosion of the slopes which carries mud and silt into the river beds”. ( The Star, Oct 24, 2008).
Flood mitigation and flood prevention are two types of actions to tackle the flood problem, said Dr Kam.
Mitigation measures only tackle the symptoms, are costly and need public (state and federal) funds. These include structural measures (upgrading rivers, installing pumps) and nonstructural measures (drainage masterplan; flood forecasting and warning systems; public education).
Flood prevention should be the priority as that would tackle the root causes, said Dr Kam, who proposed the following actions:
To take these measures, policymakers have to deploy a wide range of policy and legal instruments, and to adopt environmentally sensitive and ecologically friendly structural and nonstructural solutions, concluded Dr Kam.
Another speaker, Datuk Agatha Foo, complemented Dr Kam nicely when she elaborated on the various laws, guidelines and plans that can be used to prevent the wrong kinds of development, to control and monitor approved developments and to strictly enforce the laws.
She also spoke on the loopholes and weaknesses of the laws and how to correct them.
Events of the past few weeks alone indicate that the number of environment related and human-made problems are bound to increase, probably many times, unless our leaders and policymakers give higher priority to the environment and to well planned development.
The paradigm shift should start now, as the alarm bells have already rung.
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active
(From left) Dr Kam will deliver a talk on ‘Understanding the Causes of Floods and Seeking Solutions. State assemblymen expressing
|Choong (in white) surveying the deforested hillslope next to Majestic Heights.|
PENANG MCA has raised concerns about the safety of the residents in Tingkat Paya Terubong 4, right behind the Majestic Heights flats
Its Bukit Gelugor deputy secretary Marvyy Choong said the deforested hill behind the flats, just a stone’s throw away from Block 1, was a time bomb.
“There are 12 blocks of 23-storey flats in Majestic Heights.
“I understand that many residents have already moved out, leaving only a few more, and we’re worried for their safety.
“The surrounding hills are going bald due to ongoing earthwork and the 12 blocks may all collapse during a landslide,” he told a press conference at the flats yesterday.
|Aishah looking out her window to the hillslope which is just a stone’s throw from her unit|
“We are not opposing the paired road project but we’re against high-rise projects in vulnerable areas that may endanger lives,” he said.
Choong said Jalan Paya Terubong was not safe as trees frequently fall during a downpour.
“It is also unsafe for heavy vehicles and they must be banned from using this road after the paired road is completed.”
Meanwhile, housewife Aishah Che Wan, 68, who is living at another apartment scheme near the same hill, said muddy water gushed down the hill on Saturday and Sunday.
“Some small stones damaged a few cars parked by the side of the road,” she said, adding that she now feared for the safety of her family.
“I hope that whoever is clearing the hill will take necessary safety measures to prevent any mishap,” she said. – Starmetro
Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project. Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16′
Seeking solutions: Penang Forum member and soil expert Dr Kam Suan Pheng giving her views during the dialogue session themed ‘Penang Fl
GEORGE TOWN: Penang has tabled a higher deficit state Budget of RM740.5million for the next fiscal year of 2018. Chief Minister Lim Guan
Wet, wet woes: (Above) Bukit Jambul is flooded once again after an evening downpour.
GEORGE TOWN: A blocked underground drainage saw six houses located on a slope in Hong Seng Estate, Mount Erskine, flooded during an evening downpour.
Firemen and Civil Defence Force personnel had to install a water pump to draw out the rainwater which flooded some of the units to waist-level.
Rojak seller Tan Swee Hoe, 56, said she was shocked to see her kitchen and living room submerged in water at 7pm yesterday.
“I rushed home after receiving a call from a neighbour, saying my house is flooded.
“But I did not expect such a sight. I did not manage to move my furniture and electrical appliances to the upper floor, thus incurring several thousand ringgit in losses.
“I have been staying here for 17 years and this is the first time my house is flooded,” she said at her house.
Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey said 17 people from five houses were affected while the sixth house was unoccupied.
She said the Fire and Rescue Department and the Civil Defence Force personnel moved in to install a 400m pipe to pump the water out from the house manually.
“The water is channelled to a nearby river and it may take a few hours if the weather is good,” she said, adding that the district office will evaluate the losses.
Late last month, seven houses in the estate were affected by soil erosion. A consultant engineer Datuk Lim Kok Khong had said the soil erosion was due to water seeping under the ground.
Penang Gerakan secretary H’ng Chee Wey urged the state government, with the aid of the experts, to look into the cause of the problems.
“The state government needs to ensure that the existing infrastructure, including the drainage system, can cope with the demand before it approve new development projects.
“We hope the local authorities can be proactive in the matter,” he added.
Rising waters also flooded the Bukit Jambul area, reducing traffic to a crawl.
Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin said a RM400,000 flood mitigation project started last month.
“The project will create a shortcut for the floodwater to be discharged directly to Sungai Nibong river instead of passing through Jalan Tun Dr Awang,” he said, adding that the project was expected to be completed at the end of next month.
Source: The Star by chong Kah Yuan