The Penang government was urged by the international community to protect the environment and listen carefully to concerns from stakeholders in order to prevent future floods and landslides.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), president Meenakshi Raman, stated that it was crucial to place the environment before any development in high-risk areas could get approved.
Agency personnel must monitor high-risk areas susceptible to landslides and slope failure when heavy rainfall is frequent.
These risks can be present in Tanjung Bungah or Batu Ferringhi, Bukit Kkus, Paya Terubong, and other areas. Tragedies have been reported there before.
We can’t take action if we don’t recognize the warning signs. She said yesterday that taking precautions is extremely important.
Meenakshi also stated that it was vital for authorities to be on high alert and to anticipate disaster whenever there is heavy rainfall. This is especially true in areas where bungalows and apartments are perched high above the hillslopes.
She said that it is important to prepare for disasters and that authorities should not wait for tragedy to strike.
Meenakshi stated that rehabilitation and monitoring in high-risk zones is essential to minimize the possibility of future disasters.
She stated that the Penang Structure Plan 2020 amendment relating to hillslope guidelines must be strictly followed as a preventive measure.
The amendment prohibits any commercial development, including housing on hillslopes higher than 76m or with a slope gradient greater than 25 degrees.
Agnes James, an activist, stated that Penang’s eco-system has been vulnerable to landslides for many decades and this has been a constant problem for the state.
This is becoming more serious. The hills at Beverly Hills, Tanjung Bungah, have been reduced over time.
What happened? We don’t know.
We have been asking for information, but we have not yet received any, she stated.
She said that Tanjung Bungah’s hills were ideal for water catchment and are home to many species of wildlife.
She pointed out that species such as giant squirrels were declining day by day, and that wildlife was entering spaces where humans live due to the habitats of the animals.
Or else, things will only get worse.
We all know developers resort to shortcuts and don’t follow regulations, but why aren’t we doing something?
I don’t say no to development.
It is necessary because rice must be served on our plates, but we have the ability to do things differently.
We can follow Japan’s example and European countries’ examples, she said, adding, “The voices of all stakeholders must be heard and should not be silenced.”
Penang is known for its vulnerability to landslides, with the worst occurring on Oct 21, 2017.
Following the landslide, 11 workers were buried, including a local, five Bangladeshis and two Indonesians. Two Myanmars and one Pakistani.
It happened at an affordable housing project construction site in Lengkok Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah.
A year later, another major landlide claimed the lives of nine more foreign workers and injured four others at Bukit Kukus’ paired road project site.
After pleading guilty to an amended charge of failing provide safe working conditions at the project site, the Sessions Courts fined the construction company and the project manager of the Paya Terubong paired roads project at Jalan Bukitkus RM35,000 each.