The ‘apex university’ has done it again. An overflowing retention pond at USM has flooded neighbouring properties, causing considerable damage and knocking out power, after a heavy downpour that lasted only a couple of hours.
The flooding of a row of shops and the basement of the nearby Sri Saujana apartment complex (developed by Lion Properties in the early 1990s) during the downpour was due to the overflowing pond at the USM campus, the residents’ management committee chairman Robert Oon said today.
The complex near USM suffered tens of thousands of ringgit worth of damages – not for the first time. The outdoor basement car park, the power generation room and back-up generator, lift, swimming pool and squash courts were submerged. TNB personnel arrived, checked and said the problem was not at their end; the damage was in the electrical installation for the entire complex located in the apartment basement. It’s not going to be easy to restore power.
USM can’t say they were previously unaware of the problem. Just a few months ago, Robert had written to the DID and USM about the retention pond, telling them of the complex’s previous experiences with floods, which resulted in tens of thousands of ringgit worth of damages for the residents.
The DID then sent an officer to inspect the premises and later wrote to Robert, agreeing that the source of the problem was the USM retention pond. But the DID pinned the blame on surrounding drains outside DID jurisdiction (including inside the apartment complex), which it said were not large enough to cope. The residents wrote back to the DID, asking them not to wash their hands of the problem and to propose a solution instead of passing the buck. No reply. (Meanwhile, State Agriculture, Rural Development and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang reportedly said yesterday the DID would investigate the cause of the flooding. What, again?)
The apex university, for its part, failed to reply. This is not the first time that the overflowing USM retention pond has resulted in major damage to the apartment complex, and this was not the first time the residents had complained. Similar floods occurred in 1997 and on several other occasions including last year. But today’s was among the worst.
When contacted tonight, Sim Tze Tzin, the Bayan Baru MP who visited the area this evening, said three factors contributed to the flooding along Jalan Sungai Dua: the heavy downpour, the breaching of the USM retention pond and a culvert (which apparently comes under JKR jurisdiction) that is not big enough for the drain crossing under Jalan Sungai Dua from USM.
USM’s public relations section, meanwhile, sent an sms to Sim, part of which read: “Anyway, USM authority really concern and prihatin terhadap apa jua isu setempat. Namun ia perlu diteliti dgn mdalam krn ia juga melibatkan pelbagai pihak lain yg perlu diselaras, apatah lagi setelah lebih 40 tahun, tdpt juga byk perubahan sekitarnya terutamanya pembangunan yg pesat berlaku di dlm dan di luar kampus USM. USM akan terus mencari jln mengatasinya sebaik mungkin. Menuding jari bukan jln terbaik utk menyelesai masalah. TK”
Typical public relations talk, but the buck has to stop somewhere. Enough of “teliti dgn mendalam”; USM must work together with the DID, the MPPP and the JKR to resolve the problem and tell their neighbours exactly what they plan to do. The long-suffering neighbouring residents have put up with enough.