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Thursday March 5, 2009

Massive flood causes havoc in Kuala Lumpur

THE Smart Tunnel should not be blamed for the massive flood that hit Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the tunnel operator.

The spokesman said that the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) alignment area was beyond their system.

“The Smart Tunnel had diverted water from Sungai Ampang and Sungai Kelang during the downpour. Because of that, the Dataran Merdeka, Lebuh Ampang and surrounding areas were not flooded,” he said.

Submerged: Tuesday’s downpour left parts of the city like this road near Jalan Ipoh inundated.

“The motorway near Jalan Tun Razak was closed temporarily on Tuesday for traffic management because cars were stalled there,” he said.

The spokesman also said that there was no closure of the tunnel.

Thousands of people were left stranded as water as deep as 2m covered the major roads in the city.

LRT commuters were also badly hit when the Kelana Jaya LRT service was halted by a power failure during a thunderstorm. Some commuters were stuck in trains and only reached their destinations hours later.

StarMetro did a check around Jalan Ipoh and the PWTC areas after the flood water subsided and found that many business operators had closed their shops to clean up the mess.

Cleaning up: Shopowners along Jalan Ipoh Kecil took the day off to sweep the debris from their premises.

One of the events affected by the flood was the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) being held at the PWTC. The MIFF organisers had to work through the night to restore the exhibition site and got it ready for reopening to the public by 2pm yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Hall 2 at the PWTC is closed and all its exhibits shifted to the MIFF’s twin fairground at the MaTrade Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC) at Jalan Khidmat Usaha, off Jalan Duta.

The event organisers had also set up counters at the PWTC for its participating exhibitors as a temporary location for business deals before the MECC halls are ready.

Some car owners, meanwhile, had to hire tow trucks to remove their cars, which were submerged in the water, leaving them filled with mud.

Cheras businessman H.K. Tan, 39, said that the flood woes in KL were a never-ending saga.

Racing with time: Organisers of the MIFF worked overnight to ensure the exhibition would open yesterday.

“They always say that something will be done to mitigate the problem.

“We had so many KL mayors who had promised to solve the flood problem but, so far, there has not been any concrete results,” Tan said.

“I thought the Smart Tunnel was built to curb flooding but I have not seen any change at all,” he said.

Tan blamed what he described as bad city management for the perennial flooding problem.

Bank manager Junaidah Aziz, 30, from Ampang, said the flood situation had become almost a normal affair for the city folks.

Closed for the day: A clinic on Jalan Tun Ismail put up a notice of closure due to clean-up works.

“It is like a bad song played over and over again. The authorities keep saying that they are going to do something about it.

“They spent millions building the Smart Tunnel but I fail to see effective results,” Junaidah said.

“What KL really needs is a revamp of its drainage and irrigation system. Our drains are old, clogged, dirty and in need of major upgrading,” she said.

“The other frustrating element during flood is the LRT system, which also gets affected,” she said.

Junaidah said that the relevant authorities needed to address the flood situation seriously instead of making empty promises.

The KL City Hall (DBKL) said in a statement yesterday that the heavy downpour on Tuesday afternoon measured at 468mm and had caused several low-lying areas in the city to be flooded.

It said that heavy rain lasting an hour and 15 minutes caused the Sungai Batu, Sungai Keroh and Sungai Gombak to overflow.

According to the DBKL, several long-term flood prevention projects such as three flood retention ponds in Segambut Bahagia are expected to be completed in April this year.

This includes detouring work on Sungai Gombak and a flood mitigation pond in the Batu area.

The DBKL had also carried out river widening works at Sungai Keroh and the Jinjang flood control pond expected to be completed in June this year.

Seven more flood prevention projects under the DBKL flood mitigation project in flood prone areas are expected to be completed next year.

The long-term flood mitigation projects such as the Smart Tunnel had prevented the flooding of areas such as Jalan Masjid India and Jalan Melaka on Tuesday.

The projects covering flood mitigation ponds in Jinjang and Batu and river widening works on Sungai Gombak and Sungai Keroh are expected provide flood prevention once they are completed.

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