Probe into fatal tree fall

THE cause of the uprooted mature rain tree (Samanea saman) that crushed a car and killed its driver along Perak Road, Penang, is still under investigation.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP), in a statement, said the tree was transplanted by a certified arborist and the trees in the

Perak Road area were regularly maintained.

“Since 2019, MBPP has been actively implementing a tree maintenance programme involving almost 58,000 trees by using the services of arborists.

“Maintenance methods involve aspects of tree inspection before and after including ongoing maintenance when it is transplanted.

“The council has carried out periodic maintenance by appointing contractors with arborist expertise to carry out the management and maintenance of roadside trees planted for shade throughout the island.

“We take the initiative to inspect the internal condition of the tree using a resistograph (tree inspection equipment) for early detection of tree health problems and formulate actions on the identified maintenance works, ” the statement read.

The tragic accident happened at about 9.30am on Tuesday shortly after a morning storm lashed George Town.

The victim – Yong Geeng Huei, 53, from Bayan Lepas – was extricated at 11.04am and was pronounced dead by medical personnel at the scene.

In the statement, the council extended its condolences to the family of the victim.

MBPP further said the tree replanting work at the intersection of Perak Road and Lenggong Road had complied with all guidelines, including the ‘Tree Hazard’ assessment made before the application to plant the tree was approved.

“Transplantation works were carried out by arborists appointed by the contractor for the road widening project.

“A certified arborist was responsible for ensuring compliance with all conditions and requirements before transplanting a tree.

“The trees have been regularly maintained to ensure that the trees planted are in a healthy and manageable condition and the last date for the maintenance of the trees in Perak Road is Jan 31 this year.”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the victim’s family can claim compensation from MBPP.

“As in past cases, family members can make the compensation application after the funeral, ” he said.

He said a team would be sent to check on the health of transplanted trees from time to time.

State Gerakan spokesperson Yeap Choon Wei, at a press conference, urged MBPP to show detailed paperwork on the assessment of the tree made prior to replanting as well as after it was transplanted.

“We are shocked by the incident and hope they can make public the detailed report.

“We would like to know who was appointed as consultant as well as compensation that will be given to the family, ” he said.

Yeap said there were many more of such trees around the island, which was a worrying factor.

“We suggest that MBPP involve non-governmental organisations in its effort to transplant trees as they can offer their unbiased assessment of the situation.

“Some other areas with transplanted trees, such as Scotland Road, see a heavier flow of traffic which could be dangerous. Some trees might have been transplanted near schools as well.

“State Gerakan will offer legal advice to the victim’s family, if needed. If they need help with taking legal action, they can approach us and we will offer our assistance, ” he said.

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