KUALA LUMPUR: Plans are under way to build wildlife crossings on the East Coast Expressway.
Deputy Public Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said the move is to provide safe crossings for wild animals such as tigers, elephants and tapirs.
"A meeting was held with the Wildlife and National Parks Deparment on Feb 16 and it was agreed to improve the highway by opening underpass animal crossings.
"Suitable locations for the crossings are being identified," she said when answering a question by Wan Hasan Mohd Ramli (PAS-Dungun) in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday.
She said the proposed crossings were in response to recent accident cases involving wild animals and livestock which strayed onto the highway.
"Between Feb 1 last year and Feb 29 this year, there were a total of 133 accidents involving wild animals and livestock which resulted in fatalities.
"This number represents 12% out of the 1,094 accidents along the highway," she added.
Although the Malaysian Highway Authority has taken steps to fence the area, she said there are cases of the fences being damaged or cut locals living beside the expressway.
"Some of the locals cut the fencing to create illegal access to the highway," she said, adding that cattle and buffuloes were the main livestock responsible for the accidents.
She said steps are being taken to improve monitoring of the highway, including the building of barbed-wire fencing and installation of closed-circuit television cameras at high-risk areas.
Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh (BN-Setiu) suggested criminal prosecution against livestock breeders who allow their animals to stray onto the highway.
Rosnah said the jurisdiction to prosecute offenders was with the district councils and police.
She agreed with a suggestion by Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (BN-Lenggong) that more funds should be allocated to set up CCTVs the highway as accidents resulted in RM27.8mil in losses last year.
Rosnah said CCTV recordings could help identify the culprits responsible for damaging or cutting the highway fencing.
There have been calls for wildlife crossings to be built on the expressway after an endangered Malayan tiger was killed when it was hit by a car near the 321km mark of the highway on Feb 5.