Several major projects in progress with more to be put out to tender


A worker clearing fallen trees at Penang Hill following heavy rain in Penang.

A MAJOR flood mitigation project (RTB) is under construction in the southwest district of Penang island where it flooded last week on Wednesday.

State infrastructure committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the Teluk Kumbar RTB was expected to be completed by end of this year.

Two more projects in the pipeline in the district are the Teluk Bahang RTB and Pondok Upeh RTB, with both at the conceptual report stage.

“Both projects are expected to be tendered out by the third quarter of next year,” he said in a phone interview.

The southwest district Drainage and Irrigation Department (JPS) is in the process of tendering out a revised Drainage Master Plan for the district.

Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) staff cleaning some of the fallen trees at Penang Hill due to the heavy downpour.Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) staff cleaning some of the fallen trees at Penang Hill due to the heavy downpour.

“As for south Seberang Prai, the Sungai Kechil RTB is currently in the conceptual stage and expected to be tendered out by the third quarter of next year.

“The state government through JPS has recently completed Parit Four and Five RTBs in central Seberang Prai.

“The Mak Mandin RTB in north Seberang Prai and the Sungai Nipah RTB on the island’s southwest district in Balik Pulau are expected to be completed soon.

“These projects are all major and are part of the RM150mil high impact projects that began in 2018,” he said.

Zairil also said that the state government procured three new mobile pumps last year, on top of the existing 12 mobile pumps which could be mobilised to reduce flash floods in the state.

“The state government via JPS is constantly upgrading waterways throughout the year especially before raining periods by de-silting, removal of aquatic plants, rubbish and blockage to ensure that water can flow,” he said.

Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Cheok Lay Leng said there were no major concerns of landslides at Penang Hill so far.

“Some of our staff members are tasked to monitor areas prone to landslides on the hill each day.

“We trimmed a few trees and branches as they fell after strong winds.

An uprooted tree blocking a path at Penang Hill.An uprooted tree blocking a path at Penang Hill.

“We have been on full alert whenever there is heavy rain or wind, and are preparing our teams.

“We will monitor the wind speed and rainfall on the field every day.

“Every day, our teams will go around the hills to monitor the hotspots for landslides.

“If they come across fallen tree branches, they will attend to them immediately,” he said, adding that there were a few fallen trees but no landslides were reported at Penang Hill.

Since the area covering Penang Hill is big, Cheok said they sometimes had to rely on feedback from the public about fallen trees or soil erosion.

“If there is any report from hikers and residents, we will check the area around popular hiking trails and along the Jeep track, main roads, walking paths and railway tracks.

“Thankfully, there are no major landslides reported but there was soil erosion in some areas and we took quick action to clear them.

“Over the past one month, we have experienced around 12 incidents of fallen trees and branches,” he said.

Cheok advised hikers to be extra cautious and refrain from hiking during bad weather for their safety.

A Penang Island City Council spokesman said so far, there were landslides and slope failures reported at three locations in Balik Pulau.

“Due to the heavy storms, there were fallen and uprooted trees at five locations on the island which are at Jalan Utama, Jalan Bukit Salbiah, Jalan P. Ramlee in the northeast district; Jalan Teluk Kumbar and Jalan Pasir Panjang in the southwest district.

“Luckily, there were no casualties reported.

“MBPP has been monitoring high risk and hazardous hillslope areas by using drones or hiking physically and we have plotted a hazard and risk map for long-term monitoring.

“We take seriously the complaints by the public and NGOs through our WhatsApp hotline and take immediate action all the time,” she said.

Since 2016, Penang has been severely struck by monsoon rains, landslides and flash floods around October and November.

A major landslide near the Tropical Spice Garden cut off access to Teluk Bahang after five hours of rain in November 2016.

In October 2017, a temporary slope at the construction site of a high-rise apartment block in Tanjung Bungah collapsed, killing 11 workers.

On Nov 4, 2017, Penang was hit by a series of floods that caused landslides and uprooted over 100 trees.

Roads were closed and there was damage to homes, vehicles, public property and infrastructure.

The disaster, touted as the worst in 30 years, claimed seven lives and forced over 3,500 people to be evacuated as the state was inundated with up to 4m of water after the 18-hour storm.

At Penang Hill, it was reported that over 300 landslides occurred in 2017.

In October 2018, a landslide caused 12 containers on a slope to crash down and kill nine foreign workers.

In October 2020, a large boulder, with a 1.5m diameter, rolled down a slope due to wet weather before coming to a halt near the playground in Penang Hill.

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