The floods in Penang last night created a lot of hardship and frustration. Let’s take a look at some of the root causes of the recurrent floods in Penang:
- Concrete jungle development increases surface run-off
- Hill cutting and hill-slope development
- Indiscriminate development and lack of green open spaces
- Poor drainage/clogging of drains
- Poor planning and oversight by the previous BN administration
- Climate change and rising sea levels?
Some of you have a good idea of what’s causing these repeated floods. But first, let’s hear from Dalbinder Singh Gill, who recounts his nightmare last night. He also discovers a little-known highway development:
I used the Jalan Tun Sardon road back to Bayan Lepas as the road from Batu Feringgi to Tanjung Tokong was closed due to a fallen tree. It took our 5-star authorities 90 minutes to clear one tree. WOW. I decided to U-turn and go up back. I should have stopped at a friend’s place but no, I used the road through Teluk Bahang-Balik Pulau-Bayan Lepas. I went through eight major landslides and eight major flood areas. Yes, I suffered (from the) massive floods. Having a big Bomba station up in Batu Feringgi-Teluk Bahang area is no use if the authorities do not know how to do its work. DAM IT!! In fact at certain strecthes we as drivers got down from our vehicles with umbrellas bracing through strong winds to clear some debris leaving small space for us to pass through as we dare not U-Turn or just stay there as we were fearing more rocks and trees and debris (after-rape products) to fall. Yet the newspapers reported that the authorities were busy clearing them up. Bulls*** or maybe not at the time when i was using that road.
Now I personally know how the rakyat are suffering. Yes, I had to pass urine in my water bottle thanks to our 5-star public toilet system and its locations. Along those roads, a major highway is being built. Isn’t the normal land road enough? Sounds like the previous government was making money behind closed doors like building this highway through the outskirts so nobody knows and the rakyat wont make noise as well especially those from the kampung whose voices are far from being heard. Yes, good way of making money. Our environment has been raped. Let’s do something: saying no to the reclamation of land is the first step.
Wet-wet-wet thinks hillslope development is responsible:
The authorities should study the root causes of the floods. Not just the clearing of rubbish that clogs our drainage systems, not just de-sludging or desilting of rivers. They should effectively ban development on hillslopes. They should increase the ratio of open space to paved-over areas in development projects to minimise surface run-off. Large carparking grounds should not be paved over with concrete or tarmac but should be made water-permeable, with intermittent concrete-grass surfaces. Rainwater discharge from roofs should be retained for re-use. Introduce closed system road drains like in Ipoh, so that rubbish is not discarded into drains. It requires more than just the knee-jerk responses we’ve seen from the previous administration.
Sam Gopal who lives in my apartment block, the basement level of which was submerged in knee-deep water, points the finger at the cutting of hill slopes:
All the problems can be traced back to the indiscrimate cutting of hill side slope along Bukit Gambir. Hope the state government can pull up all these developers who are raping the hillslopes along the whole of Jalan Bukit Jambul and Bukit Gambir.
Further south, in Bayan Baru, Anthony Tan says the lack of maintenance to land reclamation canals is to blame:
When the the south eastern coast started reclamation works in 1987, the water discharge from Bayan Baru area and its hinterland like Sungai Ara, Relau etc were extended further out by some 1.5km to 2km. It is all fine if the water discharged channels were deep to allow proper outflow to the sea. As far as I know, part of the deepening of these discharged channels were packaged with the reclamation work to deepen it. It was carried out according the the contract. But these channels were recommended to be maintained regularly – not more than every five years – by deepening it due to tackle the siltation.
From 1988 till now, there is no sign of any maintenance to these channels, so are we looking for trouble? There are already warning signs given to us now that urgent work needs to be done immediately – but when?
The people of Pantai Jerejak and Bayan Baru are looking forward to the state government to take action immediately where the BN have failed to carry out.
If nothing is to done immediately, we are just waiting for a major disaster to strike which is going to cause a lot anger, hardship, loss of property and even life. Prevention is better than cure in this instance.
Coming to a general point on flood in Penang, many areas have been experiencing floods especially the notorious Jalan P Ramlee and Sungai Pinang area. We are so proud of achieving 51 years of Mederka but this problem existed even before Merdeka and yet the BN government talks about … mega projects in Penang under their care for so many years. The flood problem has been there for donkeys years but nothing has been done to resolve the problem; no wonder the BN was sacked in Penang. What happened to the cleaning up of Sungai Pinang and how much has been spent? What has it achieved and where is the report on the project? Was it a success or failure?
For Plain Truth, the buck stops with former Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon:
This is nothing new. Every time there is a heavy downpour, many parts of Penang island flood. KTK had failed to solve such a basic problem plaguing Penangites despite enjoying the trappings of office for eighteen years.
Penangites have only themselves to blame for keeping such an incompetent CM in office all those years.
Perhaps some of you could also share with us what you think is causing the floods over on the mainland.
On the bright side, if nothing is done to stop future floods, perhaps Tourism Malaysia may want to consider marketing Penang as the Venice of the East.