GEORGE TOWN: While the west coast of the peninsula is experiencing the inter-monsoon season with rain or thunderstorm in the late afternoons, the east coast states are preparing for the north-east monsoon.
As such, the Civil Defence Force (APM) is ready in case disaster were to hit any part of the country.
It is cautioning those in the east coast states and parts of Sarawak to be extra prepared for the north-east monsoon.
Its disaster management and operations division assistant director, Lt-Kol (CD) Mohd Rosman Abdullah, said 6,800 officers and personnel are ready for any eventuality, especially in high-risk areas in Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor and Pahang.
He said a total of 600 aluminium, fibre and rigid-hulled inflatable boats will be mobilised to areas where help is needed.
Other assets include 173 four-wheel drive vehicles, 182 lorries and 182 ambulances nationwide.
In August, the APM also received a drone meant for search and rescue missions in hard to access terrain.
“Our officers and personnel have undergone various courses, including in-house trainings conducted by the respective states.
“They are also trained to be medics and first-aid responders. In terms of skills, they are competent enough to do the job, ” Rosman said.
The north-east monsoon is expected to hit from November to March, bringing heavy rains which can cause floods in parts of the east coast of the peninsula as well as parts of Sarawak.
Since 2016, Penang has been hit by inter-monsoon rains, landslides and flash floods between 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.
In October last year, a landslide caused 12 containers on a slope to crash and kill nine foreign workers.
Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said both the Penang Island City Council and Seberang Prai City Council have been clearing drains and trimming trees in view of the rainy season.
Rosman said the current inter-monsoon season, which is likely to continue until next month, is expected to bring thunderstorms and downpours.
Penang Hill Corp general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said they are always on the alert and prepared for bad weather conditions.
“Depending on the wind condition and rain intensity, the speed of the train will be adjusted accordingly to let the coaches run slower than usual.
“If the weather is really bad, the funicular service will be suspended temporarily until it improves and safe enough to resume the service, ” he said, adding that passengers’ safety is always their top priority.
More than 300 landslides occurred in Penang Hill in 2017 with huge boulders, fallen trees and debris everywhere, and cutting off access roads. The funicular train service was also disrupted for two months then.