PWD: Tragedy caused by slope instability


GEORGE TOWN: Soil movement due to slope instability is said to be the cause of the freak landslide that claimed four lives at a beach resort in Batu Ferringhi, says Penang Public Works Department (PWD) director Shahabuddin Mohd Muhayidin.

He said preliminary investi­gations showed that the slope was unstable as a result of digging by a third party.

“The digging at the slope caused soil movement with a whole lot of earth coming loose.

“Right now, we are taking the necessary steps to stop further soil erosion at the slope.

“After this, we will install sheet piles to stabilise the slope,” he told reporters at a press conference in Komtar yesterday.

Following the landslide, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had ordered PWD to conduct a thorough study of Jalan Batu Ferringhi to check on conditions of the road and slopes along the 15km stretch.

“If the study finds any of the slopes or roads unsafe, repair works will be carried out following recommendations from the study.

“For now, a 50m-stretch of the road leading to Teluk Bahang has been closed for mitigation work and to ensure the safety of road users.

“The mitigation work is expected to be complete within three to four weeks, and in the meantime, a flagman will be assigned at the road stretch to direct the one-way traffic,” said Chow at the press conference.

He said the state had no information on the status of the Myanmar workers who died in the incident.

“Relevant authorities will need to investigate the landowner and project owner so that appropriate action can be taken.

Chow said they have called on the police and government agencies like the Department of Occupational Safety and Health to investigate the and take action against those responsible.

“From monitoring at the site, we believe the works to build the retaining wall were carried out without professional help.

“It was just action taken by the landowner who wanted to fix a condition on the site. And, due to the way the work was carried out, it caused soil movement and eventually the soil collapsed.”

He said PWD and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) would continue monitoring the issue.

“In this incident, the landowner should be responsible as he or she is responsible for monitoring the land.

“Although the landowner tried to take the initiative to build the wall, professional help should have been sought to ensure safer and more secure work.”

MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the council would serve notices to the landowner and other parties concerned under Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974.

“MBPP is investigating, and will take appropriate action against the parties involved.

“Although we have a team monitoring illegal construction, the construction work on this particular site was not visible to public view.”

Yew advised landowners to apply for permits before embarking on any construction work in future.

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