MALAYSIAN Nature Society (MNS) is worried about the effects from a road upgrading project cutting through the mangrove forest in Sepang.
According to the staff at MNS’ Sepang Environmental Interpretive Centre, the 10km-long Jalan Besar Salak (B48) will be upgraded in stages starting from the junction at Simpang Tiga Jenderam up to Pekan Sepang Lama.
The project by Selangor Public Works Department (JKR) will widen the single-lane road to four-lane dual carriageway.
Residents have been complaining about heavy congestion anytime in the day.
Sepang Municipal councillor Henry Thong said it would take about 15 minutes to travel 9km in normal traffic flow but that would take more than double the time at peak hours or when there were numerous heavy vehicles on the road.
“We received a notice that trees will be chopped down from March 19 onwards,” said MNS executive director Shanmugaraj Subramaniam (pic below).
He said about 70 trees would be felled.
He noted that the road works would affect the upstream of Sungai Sepang, which was deemed the most sensitive part of a waterway as seeds from mature trees were carried by the river to vegetate the area downstream.
“Among the tree species here is the crabapple mangrove (sonneratia caseolaris), a critically endangered species crucial to the breeding of fireflies,” he explained.
He also pointed out that the mangrove was a filter for water run off from Pekan Sepang, Taman Murni, Desa Indah and the oil palm estates in Bukit Pelanduk and Sepang.
“Without it, sullage, sedimentation and siltation will affect the livelihoods of fishing villages downstream,” he added.
Shanmugaraj fears floods may occur in the nearby housing areas once the existing bund and vegetation are removed.
He said an embankment would be built but still had his doubts.
“Have the consultants taken into consideration how high the river water will rise when it rains?
“I was told that a one-channel flow will be built to handle water inflow but is it enough to handle the volume of water coming from the surrounding areas?” he questioned.
The mangrove forest surrounding the interpretive centre is a sanctuary for diverse marine habitat. Otters, monkeys and monitor lizards are often spotted here.
Shanmugaraj said upon receiving notice that the land had been taken up for the project, an appeal was sent to the Selangor Mentri Besar which was then forwarded to Selangor Tourism, Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong, who urged JKR to observe the limitations of the riverine reserve and preserve its banks.
Wong also suggested that the centre’s 105-year-old building be preserved for its historical value.
She also asked JKR to obtain the views of MNS on the environmental impact brought on by the B48 project.
To this, JKR replied that the taking over of the mangrove forest was a necessary move to solve the worsening traffic woes on route B48. However, the department gave assurance that it would take every effort to ensure the current ecosystem was preserved and would replant the trees.
A project consultant spokesman said all efforts concerning the ecological aspects of this project had been optimised.
Meanwhile, Selangor Infrastructure and Public Facilities Committee chairman Zaidy Abdul Talib said last month that felled trees would be replanted in an area of 2,259sq m.
Zaidy asked for the public's understanding and patience as the project was a necessary step for economic progress.
Roadworks are expected to begin on Monday