Penang floods: The price of out-of-control, irresponsible development

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Penangites woke up this morning to a deluge of images of flash floods around the state which will surely haunt those who have approved developments projects that have concretised much of the state including its hill-slopes.

Heavy rains began early this morning and many Penangites were unable to get to work. Muddy water gushed down hill-slopes, turning hill-sides into scary brown waterfalls. This storm comes a couple of days after a similar one hit parts of the Klang Valley a couple of days ago.

This must be the worst flood in Penang in recent years.

See what happens when property development projects are approved haphazardly, hill-slopes degraded, and concrete and tar are poured all over, reducing the capacity of ground absorption of rain water. See what happens when we don’t have a proper Local Plan?

Photograph: P Wong

Until now, the authorities had ridden their luck. But today’s floods have laid everything bare for all to see. The chickens have come home to roost.

And matters can only get worse with climate change as rainfalls increase in intensity and frequency. Even the heavily built up Spice convention centre area, the state government’s pet project, has been affected.

And they are still insisting on a RM1bn ‘paired road’ up on the hills from Teluk Bahang to Tanjong Tokong and the RM8bn six-lane Pan Island Link that will hug the eastern hill-slopes from the north to the south of the island … Seriously?

Blog visitor tunglang reports at 11.36am:

As at this time of writing, the flood waters have not receded after some 4.5 hours of flooding in various places of Penang. This is unprecedented!

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With the massive, feverish, uncontrolled cutting of hills in Paya Terubong just for a hill road, we don’t need brains to think where the muddy water was supposed to come from to flood the places esp All Seasons and Masjid Negeri.

At this time of writing, no vehicle traffic can cross the floods in front of Masjid Negeri, P Ramlee and All Seasons.

Wish I still had my LandCruiser2 which could cross four feet of water.

I think you might need a boat at this rate!

As an environmentalist pointed out, the root causes of these floods are:
– poor land-use planning;
– irresponsible EIAs that biased towards developers;
– poor drainage infrastructure to support high density development; and
– development without proper planning.

MBPP announcement:

PARAS AIR DI SUNGAI TELAH MELEBIHI PARAS BAHAYA (KEMAKINI 9.30am)

Hujan lebat and paras air telah naik di beberapa kawasan di Pulau Pinang.

KEMASKINI SETAKAT 8.50am, kawasan yg telah dikenalpasti:-
Sila laporkan kawasan-kawasan yang banjir :-
1. Kampung Masjid
2. Kampung Makam
3. Jln P. Ramlee, Sungai Pinang
4. Kampung Mutiara, Batu Feringghi
5. Jalan Langkawi
6. Jalan Kebun Lama
7. Masjid Negeri, Ayer Item
8. Kampung Masjid Hashim Yahya
9. Parit Lumba Kuda
10. Jln Thean Teik, Farlim
11. Logan Rd
12. Bayan Baru
13. P.Ramlee Rd
14. Jln Residensi
15. Han Chiang
16. sPICE
17. Giant Bayan Baru
18. Jln Luar Elit Avenue Heights
19. Lentang Pondok Upeh, Balik P.
20. Jln Bukit Lama
21. Bukit Baru Batu
22. All Season, Farlim
23. Reservoir Garden
24. Depan SMK Raja Tun Uda
25. Sg Ara depan Stesen Petronas
26. Jln Dato Kramat (Sekolah Convent)
27. Jln Paya Terubong (berdekatan Suria Vista)
28. Lebuh Rambai
29. Jln Magazine
30. Jln Tun Dr Awang

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Orang ramai diminta berhati-hati semasa berada di luar rumah dan merancang perjalanan anda. Keselamatan anda dan keluarga perlu diutamakan.
Sebarang aduan mengenai banjir, tanah runtuh, pokok tumbang dan lain-lain, sila hubungi Hotline MBPP ditalian:
04-263 7000/04-263 7637

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50 COMMENTS

  1. HILLY Housing projects at Paya Terubong, Bukit Gambier, Tanjung Bungah now should be rated high risks.

    Anil can start to compile risky sites on island and mainland to correlate risk and per square feet price.

    After HILLY concern, next seaside condos to face high tide flooding should there unprecedented storm hitting the islands.

    IDEAL and IJM with many sea reclaimed projects should now hire Engineer to assess the risks?

  2. Saving Penang should start by saving yourself from the denial syndrome. You have to admit the incompetencies and selfishness of the top shot at Komtar. They can have their RBA to spin their dear leader success and use whatever regulations to hide facts from public knowledge, but as Anni said, nature will lay bare for all of us to judge and see. If you still can’t see, then no one can save you.

    • Every motorist must check his denial syndrome and conscience each time he steps on his car accelerator, releasing carbon to the environment and contributing to global warming.

  3. Sorry to say that putting all the blame purely on “out-of-control, irresponsible development” as written shows the level of understanding you have on this situation.

    Various warnings and reports have mentioned that typhoon Doksuri was expected to bring abnormally high amounts of rainfall and strong winds. If this scale of problem regularly happens during each monsoon season, then only would your points would be justified as you have pointed.

    • It’s much easier to blame it on El Nino, monsoons, typhoon, Act of God etc. Or poor drainage.

      But what about uncontrolled development without consideration for sensitive hillslopes. Are there any really independent EIAs? and what about planning policies (if you can call them that … after all, what happened to the Penang Island Local Plan?) that favour developers.

      • Even advanced n developed country like HK. gets flooded in city areas. The authories classified as yellow, red and black rain. They have money to spend and no need to give money to China gomen. Here tell us how much putra jaya gives? Blue saga seeds can tell us.

    • So, we are expected to ride out every storm & smile at the stinking muddy water flowing into our homes?
      And to smile cleaning up muddied floors & walls & furnitures while waiting for the sun to shine more smiles?
      I am sorry to say that while some make bundles of money from feverish land development, we the ordinary people suffer from out-of-control flooding due to obvious reasons we are expected to smile & keep quiet!
      Today, I went to help an office (near Jalan P.Ramlee) clean up the floors full of … muddy water. And from the 2+ hours of back breaking chores, I kept wandering why I should not blame the obvious culprits but to just keep up with a Smile of a Tiger.
      Today, I asked myself again (the previous times in 1990s I cleaned up my flooded in-laws house in Paya Terubong) where the hell did the mud came from or was it from the sky?
      My childhood experiences of many floods in George Town was this: the flood waters in the drains & into our homes were clear as tap water. You could even see fishes & snakes & your own 2 feet. No mud, no cat urines.

      • Car service centre and furniture shops stand to gain more customers after big flood requiring replacements.

        They earn more than engineer do for just a havoc rainy moment.

      • All Malaysia rivers look like lim teh. Even coming from virgin jungle. Maybe animals have big jobs inside?

    • It would be naive to put Friday’s unfortunate incident purely on 1 cause, and that is why I felt that this article blaming it solely on poor planned development is nothing more than a one sided story.

      I too was one of the thousands of people on the island affected by the weather yesterday. But I too have a relative’s home in a kampung in Kedah behind Gunung Jerai that was flooded due to the same weather over the same night. That house regularly flooded whenever it rained heavier, and after they raised the river embankment the regular flood waters was successfully held off for a few years. Sadly though Thursday/Friday’s weather brought higher than expected amounts of rainfall and the flood returned.

      That said, I believe infrastructures preventing and mitigating such events are constantly being upgraded as the society develops. However like every infrastrcture, they will be designed and built to a ‘practical’ limit based on past history with additional buffer. The abnormal weather we and millions of others experienced from the typhoon was unfortunately way above that limit.

    • Do not forget carbon emissions by those cars on the road 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

      Global Warming! An inconvenient truth.

  4. The development in the Malaysian cities is done mostly in ad hoc manner, no integration with existing infrastructure, resulting in drains not able to discharge water effectively. Old drains surrounding new development are not designed to divert more discharge. More often than not the drains are clogged with leaves and rubbishes. Another reason is the unusual high rainfall lately due to climate change. At least we are not hit by typhoons that are striking Hong Kong and Taiwan with higher frequency these days.

    • Butterworth also kena like hell ! Mak Mandin and Kampung Permatang Rawa are places with little developments like high-rise or so ! In fact, many of the drains in town area are so dirty and clotted, once it rains, you can see how fast it overflow !

      • On the contrary, more land has been cleared for property development in recent years without considering supporting infrastructure.

      • Yes and one of the worst affected is Permatang Pauh.

        So will BN win Permatang Pauh in GE14?

        If the Penang state government don’t do anything about it, they will be asking for it.

      • If permatang is also flooded, why it is also flooded like in pg island? I.T. no logic. Pekan often flood, so Jib will also lose his seat?

    • Anil, agreed with you. I am staying near to Jawi that impacted due to current development caused Jawi become valley, all water flow towards. Greedy causes this happen

  5. As at this time of writing, the flood waters have not receded after some 4.5 hours of flooding in various places of Penang.
    This is unprecedented!
    With the massive, feverish, uncontrolled cutting of hills in Paya Terubong just for a hill road, we don’t need brains to think where the muddy water were supposed to come from to flood the places esp All Seasons & Masjid Negeri.
    At this time of writing, no vehicle traffic can cross the floods in front of Masjid Negeri, P. Ramlee & All Seasons.
    Wish I still had my LandCruiser2 which could cross 4 feet of water.

    • I used to live on Logan Road in 1970 and it is one of the roads flooded.

      Looking at Logan Road on Google Maps and seeing the “development” which has taken place there, I would not like to visit the place again, lest I suffer a great depression, which I will not recover from.

      Penang is no longer the “Pearl of the Orient” but a but a badly managed Singapore wanna-be concrete jungle.

      • U mean singland is badly organised? Tell us your suggestion for a small country smaller than lake toba. Kick out all PG. Lang and johor Lang working there?

  6. Anil, Your assessment is apt n spot on. Penang people have to wake up n face realities. Don’t mess around with God’s gift for a blissful life: nature n a beautiful environment. But as you said when we have aggressive n unsustainable development by greedy corporate Developers backed by the Kiasu mentality of Penangites this is the price we have to pay. People of Penang should recall the Tragedy of Highland Towers in 1993. Irresponsible development was the cause. About time for a rethink n reflection by All.

    • You engr to blame. Use cheap brittle rail piles. You use relative, drafter to do arch.job. Blue saga seed at work

    • Now its best time to assess best locations in Penang without flooding.
      Market prices now to be adjusted favouring no flood-prone place.
      Condo properties must now include no flooding feature.

      • Sri Impian Condo @ Lengkok Angsana (Farlim) also flooded at the car park!
        And it sits on a hillside, not on lowland like Jalan P.Ramlee.
        So, where are the safe condos?

      • I understand you can buy a property in crumbling Detroit for about as much as you would pay for a used car in Malaysia.

    • Of course, you did not tell Detroit mayor has no more money and no rubbish collection and all municipal services.

  7. Blame God or blame the state gomen?
    I blame CAT Gomen.
    My daughter couldn’t get to USM for her morning class despite my trying various short cuts starting from Jalan Angsana. And it didn’t help without a soul of Trafik Polis to guide us (unaware of the floods) away from the flooded road in front of All Seasons.
    Nyiamak CAT!

    • Apasal lu salahkan DAP’s CAT gomen? It’s Gerakan, BN and of course, UMNO’s fault ma, no meh? Kalau tarak hujan, mah tarak banjir lor, hehehe.

      • Try spin harder!!!
        And less nonsense but more usefulness of your ‘professed’ engineering to contribute productively instead of hehehe!!!

      • Apah guna kerajaan DAP CAT jika tidak boleh selesai masaalah banjir kilat?

        Apa ma’ana nya “Competency, Accountability, Transparency” kepada orang yang selalu kena banjir?

        Perkataan “Competency, Accountability, Transparency” sahaja … lembu kepada telinga saya.

    • What spinning? I thought ppl here like to blame Gerakan, UMNO and BN for woes in Penang and in this country? Reading comments here is just an entertainment for me.

      • Spinning is a habit of a fixated mind who holds a fixed thought of a political nature regardless of a problem at hand. So, with a fixated thinking, how to reason without prejudice of taking sides as is the flooding problem (affecting everyone of different political affinity).

        “I thought ppl here like to blame Gerakan, UMNO and BN..” is a farcical excuse to further a habitual spin but does not contribute anything of substance but an opportunity to spin & shiok sendiri.
        Maybe, such spinner of “I thought” like to be entertained from spinning.

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