Flashback: Cracks spotted along Batu Ferringhi road


Photos have been circulating of cracks on the hlll-slope roads leading to the Vale of Temp.

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about cracks on the road to Batu Ferringhi, not too far from where the sections of the road have cracked or given way.

Apparently, there’s even a sink hole, somewhere near Gottlieb Road. From what I hear, there used to be waterway from the Botanic Garden to Gurney Drive, which was covered over when Gottlieb Road was built.

You see, we have been allowing higher density property development, especially in places like Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi, without looking at whether the supporting infrastructure can cope. In a blog post about cracks on the road, I wrote: “Residents worry that the supporting existing infrastructure (e.g. roads) will be unable to cope with the higher density.”

That road near Vale of Temp was never meant for heavy vehicles or the heavy traffic that high density development has created.

The following is is the original blog post from 9 January 2015:

Stress marks and cracks have appeared along the main road to Batu Ferringhi which hugs the hillslopes along the north and north-west coastline of Penang Island.

Photo 100, near military camp

Batu Ferringhi Road showing affected stretches

A concerned Batu Ferringhi resident, an experienced engineer, snapped these photos on 15 January 2015, just a couple of weeks after the peak Christmas/New Year tourist season at this popular tourist belt.

They three affected stretches are near a military camp, the Baptist Theological Seminary and Moonlight Cafe. It is unclear what has caused the stress marks on the road.

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Batu Ferringhi has been a centre of controversy after it emerged that much higher densities for high-rise propertly development projects along the coast could be in the pipeline.

These higher densities could turn the tourist belt, known for its relaxed setting into a congested ‘primary development corridor’ instead of the secondary development corridor as laid out in the Penang Structure Plan (2005-2020).

Even Tanjung Bunga was supposed to be a secondary development corridor, according to the text of the Structure Plan, but the colour of the zoning illustration was somehow changed to indicate that it is purportedly a primary development corridor.

Residents worry that the supporting existing infrastructure (e.g. roads) will be unable to cope with the higher density.

A controversial new “paired road” has been planned, but already there are fears that this may now be pushed even higher up the coastal hill-slope, given that much of the lower hill-slopes have already been built up.

The more detailed Penang Island Local Plan, approved in 2008, has not yet been gazetted after seven years. This has effectively allowed what appears to be a discretionary free-for-all in density planning, turning Penang into a paradise for developers.

Penang has been touted in international reports as an ideal place to retire. But the irony is that many among the foreign retirees already settled here have expressed disquiet at the lack of proper planning procedures.

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  1. With an 8.8 kilometre-long network of cycling paths completed some months ahead of schedule, cycling enthusiasts in Punggol (Singapore) can now get around the neighbourhood more easily on their bikes.

    Hopefully Penang could emulate this.

  2. Please ask the Jabatan Mineral dan Geosains Malaysia ( Unit Kejuruteraan) to investigate on the road cracks. A geological report should be furnished.

    Office to contact is located in Alor Setar which covers Penang , Kedah and Perlis.

  3. Chopping down the trees, high traffic, high density development are testimonies of capable state government under the stewardship of LGE. BRAVO LGE… Penangites are rewarded with concrete jungle and high traffic volume. These are sign of progress in the state brought by LGE. Majulah Pulau Pinang

    • you want gomen to do nothing like kelantan when pg lang in the past used to ride push bikes and then kapcais and now cars? some thinks cars no good. 4wds with monkey bars better. some even moves to SP..there is a choice. but until old yoy still wants to live in pg unlike your forefathers left teng suah and come to small hot place like pg

  4. National Home Buyers Association (NHBA) cracks open the artificial inflation of housing prices.
    A MUST READ of how it’s done (now an open secret) & no more an excuse to raise prices beyond consumers’ affordability. Many thanks to NHBA secretary-general, Chang Kim Loong.

    Developers still fuelling speculation, Putrajaya told
    Developers are artificially inflating prices and offering rebates that allow speculators to buy without down payments, according to the National Home Buyers Association.

  5. So , What have we here? The roads on the Island are falling apart? Oh but wait, Mr Anil Kapoor and all the other NGOs that have suddenly sprung up are AGAINST the tunnel and the 3 paired roads project outlined in the HALCROW REPORT ! ARE THEY NOT? No need to spend a SINGLE SEN on wasteful projects, they said! The way I see it, we can all stand idly by as the island crumbles, or we can make our voices heard that we want new and better and faster connections between the island and mainland ! And better and faster connections for all types of vehicles all around every corner of the island. We DO NOT want the useless Better Cheaper Faster, which is only “Better” for Hipster Types going to Cafes in Armanien St. We DO NOT want NGOs who sit around and REJECT REJECT REJECT !

    • SinChewJitPoh and China Press reported on the meeting which Anil has attended with Think City.
      Would Anil care to share the outcome and plans after that meetings?
      I try to scan the pages with Anil’s for the benefits of those who don’t get such juices from The Star or NST.

  6. China Street Ghsut streetscape upgrade project on progress now for completion by July next year to transform the area with pedestrian walk, also urban jungle at Armenian Park to be funded by Aga Khan Trust for Culture managed by Asian Global Business part of Think City project.

    Likewise, road cracks can be resolved with JKR from federal government budget 2016 funding.

  7. In the face of what lurking dangers & environmental consequences can come from Penang Cosmopolitan Frenzied Development, here is an article to ask why housing (in the first place) should be available to all income brackets.
    And we may not need to be frenzied to do away with greed.

    Comparing houses with cars
    Are there too many Bentleys and Mercedes – NoAre there too many RM1mil houses – Yes

    KHAZANAH Research Institute research director Suraya Ismail uses the car metaphor to describe the Malaysian housing market.

    Are our roads clogged with too many Bentley and Mercedes-Benz cars? No. On the contrary, our roads are filled with a range of cars to suit every income bracket.

    The same should apply to houses – there should be housing available to all income brackets.

    If houses were cars, there are simply too many Bentleys and Mercs and too few Perodua cars.

    In a nutshell, the various proposals of late – from developers giving out loans, banks extending housing loans from 35 to 40 years and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) allowing contributors to take out more from their retirement fund to buy houses – are premised on increasing debt levels to buy these Bentleys and Mercs.

    “It is demand-driven. These proposals are to ensure that people have money to buy expensive houses.

    “The intent may be good, but it will not solve the affordability issue because these proposals only result in house buyers taking on more debt, which they cannot afford.”

    As for taking from the EPF, the majority of contributors do not have enough for retirement. They should not use their retirement fund in this way, she says.

    “Whereas the stand my research is advocating is to make sure there is adequate supply of reasonably priced houses and finance will take care of itself,” says Suraya.

    “The stakeholders must ensure supply is efficient – there is a house available to suit every income bracket – and issues about finance will solve themselves.”

    Suraya says prices should be three times the annual household median income, which means that if a household earns RM8,000 a month, then the price would be RM288,000 (RM8,000x12x3). This is the price that particular household can afford.

    This is not Khazanah’s benchmark, but is used in other countries as well.

    The median monthly household income for Malaysians in 2014 was RM4,585 (4,585x12x3 = RM165,060). This figure tends to vary according to locations. The Statistics Department said Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest median monthly household income of RM7,620 as at June 2015, which equates to the household’s affordability being capped at RM274,320.

    “But how many developers are building houses at such prices today?” she asks.

    An efficient market

    An efficient market is where at each price bracket – RM500,000, RM400,000 and RM300,000 – there is a product available. She says property development, being a multi-billion-ringgit industry, has a social element to it and must be more efficient.

    In order for this to happen, prices have to first go down. Secondly, the technology used must be understood.

    Whatever method or technology developers bring in, they cannot lay the blame on the methods or technology, she says.

    Suraya adds that there are developers who have reported that industrial building systems (IBS), a modernised construction method which supposedly reduces construction time, have increased cost by some 30%.

    The design of the building may be unsuitable and the workers may not be trained, she says.

    “Modern methods of construction will help the industry to mature and cost will come down. But don’t try to cut short the process,” she says.

    Therefore, the context of any measures should be to bring prices down, and not about providing finance to buy expensive products. Suraya says developers have been saying they do not have the finances to migrate to the build-then-sell method.

    If developers can afford to give loans to house buyers to buy their houses, then maybe they should focus on the build-then-sell model.

    A healthy eco system

    Suraya says she understands the private sector has to make a profit and it is possible to make a profit even with affordable housing as done in other countries, where developers or house builders build specifically for nurses or teachers.

    But if one were to look at the house supply in Malaysia, all – if not most – of the developers are building expensive houses beyond the reach of most.

    Even those with a household income of RM8,000, RM10,000 and RM12,000 are seeking Government assistance to buy houses priced at RM200,000, RM300,000 and RM400,000, respectively, Suraya says, referring to two state Governments.

    The issue is that half of the state population earns less than RM4,000 a month. So such measures do not really help the needy.

    “Let us focus not on finance but on supply,” she says.

    Competition laws

    Suraya advocates having competition laws to create an ecosystem that provides products of different price ranges.

    “There should be more players who can provide different products,” she says.

    There is also the tendency in Malaysia to compare our housing/loan situation with overseas markets.

    It is incorrect to do so because in Australia and the United States, developers practise the build-then-sell method. They do market studies and take the risk that if they do not provide quality products, people will not buy.

    However, in Malaysia, we are selling a piece of paper. It is, therefore, not right to make such a comparison.

    “I appreciate that we have this method of selling houses. So fine. I accept this, but let us increase productivity by modernising our property industry. Houses taking over two years to build can be reduced to six months if we modernise the way we construct by using the IBS.”

    As for the influx of China developers, especially in Johor, Suraya says they have a better margin because they use modern technology and their workers know how to execute on site, which helps to bring down construction costs.

    So we have to:

    a) look at supply,

    b) look at modernising the industry, and

    c) we should not be looking at finance first before we do (a) and (b).

    Suraya says there is a social element to housing and it is the duty and responsibility of every developer to provide decent housing, even those at the bottom of the price list.

    “If they care for fellow citizens, they will build better housing. We must make it affordable generally and that affordability should be tied to your income.

    “Developers are contributing to social mobility and the economy when they provide good decent housing because over the long term, more children from that segment will then buy your houses,” she says.

    Suraya says the private sector is the backbone of the country’s economy, and sometimes, the Government needs to regulate and nudge it in a certain direction.

    “If these partnerships are done properly, I am sure making housing affordable is something we can look forward to. The private sector is motivated by what shareholders want, to accumulate wealth, but the end does not justify the means, particularly when it is possible to be profitable and yet provide decent and affordably priced housing.”

    Suraya says nobody has a narrative on the subject because nobody has done any research on it. Research is difficult and nobody wants to solve the problem.

    “We must each ask ourselves what is the problem. As an individual, what can I do?

    “Because the buck stops here. Each of us has a role to play,” she says, adding that in this current situation, providing more finance is not the solution.

  8. Cracking a sign of overpopulated island by humans and motor vehicles?


    Let’s move over to mainland be good neighbors of Peter Phang, as development is mushrooming at Butterworth vicinity with the opening of Penang Sentral a catalyst of hopefully a sustainable growth.

  9. That stretch of Jalan Lembah Permai actually belongs to PBA. It was opened up to ease traffic congestion along Jalan Tanjung Tokong. That part was designed for light vehicle use only, but we have seen back hoe and heavily laden lorries bringing construction materials to Lembah Permai. The developers should know very well not to use that road because there are already warning signs forbidding heavy vehicles from entering that stretch of the road. There’s no enforcement and nothing will be done until accidents happen!

  10. To the fascist, mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, forests all represent untapped money. Here are some typical, arrogant statements from those who should be serving the public:
    – Do not speculate.
    – Do not spread rumours or exaggerate.
    – Criticism is sedition.
    – Report through proper channels.
    – We have not received any report.
    – We are aware of the situation and will look into it.
    – We are looking into it.
    – We have formed a special, high-level committee to look into it.
    – We have called for tenders/awarded the contract/followed up with the contractor.
    – It was the fault of the public/contractor.
    – It was a natural disaster beyond our control.

    • I think the place should be exclusive or the few rich people in Penang.
      The wrath of the hill is due to intrusion for more housing?
      Keep the place exclusive in Penang, so that Batu Feringghi can continue to be associated with the 1% high society of Penang.
      Like that Penang can attract and retain the rich and famous.

      • That Tanjung Bungah – Batu Ferringhi area has more super-expensive housing development than the entire Penang Island. You wanna qualify that for housing for the masses (i.e. 1% rich + 99% middle income > poor)?
        Pls go have a good look before counting based on numbers (to justify CAT’s housing tunnel vision) without the price tags.

      • No reason for you to attack other’s view to justify your opinion which may not necessary be a fact.

      • he has every reasons because he thinks he is TUN lang. he will sue, he will bark and order people to see him and Anil allow him to use the term donkey whereas Anil bar me from using this term and render my contribution meaningless.

      • I have decided to stop commenting now as I dislike a bully lang in this blog.

      • departure of Ganesh following the footsteps of Raj666, Yang …..

        btw, can Anil help to translate “Munnerovum” ?

      • No idea what it means. It’s tricky trying to moderate with all these strange words.

  11. The Karma payback time of CAT’s Intransigent + Arrogance of Slippery Development has finally arrived.

    What’s the point of profitable + massive financial returns from unsavoury swap deals with greedy-not-enough developers from KL, SingLand & God knows where (backed by perennial blame game of Fed’s peanut funding) BUT leading to this state of dangerous & life threatening environmental affair?
    It’s high time for responsible & accountable action of CAT(?) by bringing the perpetual MIA Penang Local Plan from hiding backroom of 28th Flr Komtar for public scrutiny of land zoning. No more blame game to start with this dangerous turn of events of Cosmopolitan Frenzied Development of Penang.
    Pity those folks at Pepper Estate who by no fault of theirs have to bear the inconvenience of evacuation brought about by a CAT gomen that professes Caring for the People 308 (My Foot).

    • Gerakan or PCM or PFP would be proud of you, possibly inviting you for their ceramah to attack LGE. Dedak for you, I believe.

      • Political empathy in times of calamities or dangerous environmental crisis?
        All I can say is: Nature is no game for political empathy, neither does it ‘cham siong’ with politicians or corporations for private greedy enterprise that breaks the eternal laws of nature.
        Go back to school to learn Real Geography to understand Nature, not the Geography mixed with political empathy as fantasised in dizzy minds.
        Should any loss of lives result from such environments crisis in Penang, how about more defensive political empathy for your Niao Kong? Or why not blame God for shedding more rain tears everyday?
        Pls grow up to be responsible Penangite.

      • You should live in a cave to embrace nature, else stop complaining unless your house is a natural thing, not man-made.

      • with young sexy comrades as added incentives to overcome the niaokong arrogance with Baljit’s strategies???

      • all because more and more people, tourists, factories, more viets, burmese, banglas and more cars in penang. why penang lang use to push bike now change to cars not enough those who bark change to 4wd in penang town treating like riding camel adventure.

  12. It does look like the whole of that narrow passage way of Batu Feringghi is sinking ?
    Worse, that’s the only road people use every day ?

    • Most of the coastal roads along that tourist stretch are narrow + facing a hill slope at the left side (if one is going towards Teluk Bahang) & ripe for such disaster should more unchecked development of that scale go free-for-all-greedy.
      On a normal daylight hour, that affected stretch of Vale of Temp Road has a volume of estimated 7,200 vehicles plying 2-way in an hour (given a one second = 2 vehicles count). Figure in the 1-3 tonne lorries, what small road can bear that vehicle volume & weight + velocity, more so on a sloping road that twist & turn.

    • If more vehicles the road should sink as it is getting more compact like roller to consolidate the soil. How it does not fail during no raining days but fail in mist of rain??

      • Don’t worry, it seems a new parallel highway is going to build along the Batu Feringghi to Teluk Bahang area soon.

      • anil and tun lang are most worried even one of them use 4wd as cars are not good enough in penang roads.

  13. Cracks could also be due to poor quality construction and no maintenance?

    Cracks are also common among Umno ministers. Surat Sokong are issued to cover the cracks of 1MDB, and lately to support K14?

  14. The photo’s were taken 15 January 2015? My calender says it’s just hit 10th January 2015. Wow!!!Who owns the time machine?

    • Yang, I have a new term for these road cracks along Batu Ferringhi:
      Coast-Crack-Politan Penang.
      First we have Coast-Mud-Politan Penang, then Botak-ed Hills, now this.

      We are living in unprecedented dangerous times, notwithstanding the bling-bling status of Cosmopolitan with all the promises of 1st world standard of living but only for the rich & famous. Losing lives in disasters is to some fellas an acceptable ‘inevitable’ price to pay for ‘ai bin chui’ development, which is also a political portfolio for GEs as well as a token (small) price of Cosmopolitan Penang that will boast to lead ahead of all other Malaysian states.

      Now, as the 3rd global best place for retirees to come here & enjoy staying, I wonder how these slow & fragile retirees with gingerly pace can drive safely around these cracks of token of Cosmopolitan Penang.

      Coast-Crack-Politan Penang for Formula One retirees & Evel Knievel wannabes-turned-retirees.

      • Penang Hill undergoing positive image overhaul. Many locals who can’t afford to go abroad or even drive 4Wheel to Royal Belum can be proud of The Habitat at Penang Hill.
        This weekend to take your family for an outing to The Habitat at Penang Hill, as during school holidays later will be too crowded.

      • they can get free trip and all expenses paid to belum by tun lang as he offer the challenge twice.

      • The Bunians are waiting for you, patiently. Kay Bo?
        Anyway, this one way trip of a lifetime is good …!
        My advice, if you accept it is to first write a will for your beloved!

      • You think LGE willing to buy the property when you offer the trip calling them Kay bo? Only … brain thinks that. You are not the willing party to offer and we are not the willing party to accept when in the first place calling them Kay bo

        LGE tak boleh are you willing to accept tun lang offer of free trip with his remark Kay bo? Is there willing seller and willing buyer?

  15. These types of cracks are common on the road called the Vale of Thames or Lebah Permai on the winding road section heading down to Jalan Fettes. The roadworks department keeps on widening this road and removing sharp corners by building a rock boundary wall, then filling in between the old road and the rock wall with rocks, then covering with soil. Last a layer of gravel is put down and then covered with tar-seal. This creates a very soft section of road that sinks and sometimes collapses. This is fixed by dumping more soil, and is repeated until the soft road becomes firmer.

    I am not sure what holds the rock walls up but often they leave a large tree in place and build the wall either side of it.

    The photos seem to indicate that this road has been widened as the traffic gets busier and heavier and the widened section is either compacting or subsiding.

  16. These cracks have been there since two to three years back then lah !
    The alternative paired road is also planned many years back lah ! Now only we see the DAP’s dilly dally ?

    • yet they are like pasar traders selling snake oil blame on karma and enviroment. pics show clear cut failure between old and extension.


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