Strong gusts of wind – the tail end of violent super typhoon Lekima, which has slammed into southern Japan and eastern China – wreaked havoc in northern Peninsula Malaysia last night.
Last night, residents looked on in alarm as howling winds sent roofing, signboards, outdoor tables, chairs and other debris hurtling down streets and corridors. Parked motorcycles fell like dominoes. Strong gusts knocked down several trees, which crashed like boxers hit by a sucker punch.
The morning after – a trail of damage along the streets of Penang the likes of which I have never seen before. Fallen trees, branches and leaves lined the damp wind-swept roads, as motorists gingerly manoeuvred their way through the roads, many of them previously widened, leaving little room for the tree roots to spread.
It was the worst windstorm Penang has witnessed in recent years – suggesting that climate change is well and truly here. We are going to see more and more of such super typhoons in the coming years.
This is why we must become more climate resilient in the coming years, focusing on protecting our natural environment, improving food security, taking care of our coastlines and protecting our hills.
This is why our transport network should focus on reducing emissions – not building many more highways that would only result in induced demand ie encourage more cars.
This is why we should focus on sustainable mobility by improving public transport – starting with a state-wide revamp of our bus system instead of wasting RM20bn on mega projects that would benefit well-connected corporate interests.
Singapore’s buses carry 3.9 million people daily (2016), more than its MRT (3.1 million) and light rail (0.2 million). There are about 5,800 buses in Singapore (which has three times the population of Penang). Penang has just 300 buses.
We continue with business as usual at our peril.