IPOH: A total of 14 major landslide-prone stretches have been identified by the Perak Public Works Department from Simpang Pulai and Tapah heading up to Cameron Highlands, with round-the-clock supervision being conducted at some spots.
Its deputy director Hamdan Ali said 12 such stretches were being monitored from Tapah right up to Ringlet (FT059), and two stretches from Simpang Pulai to Blue Valley (FT185).
“There are also 100 minor landslide spots identified on FT059, and three such areas on FT185.
“My personnel are consistently monitoring the slopes together with the concessionaire. In some cases, there is 24-hour supervision by way of visual inspection or survey equipment.
“Perak has the most slopes after Pahang, and one must always be careful when driving in hilly areas,” he told The Star.
On Dec 2, a landslide at Section 27 of the Simpang Pulai-Blue Valley road at about 1.40pm buried a vegetable-loaded lorry and a multipurpose vehicle.
Hamdan said it was the first time in 20 years since the Simpang Pulai road opened that there had been a landslide leading to fatalities.
He said even on the Tapah route, no death was recorded despite the many landslides there.
“The recent landslide was most unexpected, with 217mm of rainwater recorded over two weeks with continuous rainfall weakening the stability of the hillslope, leading to the landslide.
“Our experts will analyse the causes and then come up with a proposal to build a retaining wall, or conduct treatment at the existing slope and re-profile it,” he said.
Hamdan advised those planning trips to Cameron Highlands to first check with the nearest police or fire and rescue station on the situation of both roads.
“It is always good to check with the stations in Tapah and Simpang Pulai for more accurate information,” he added.
Perak Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Osman said his men were prepared to handle landslides at various stretches leading up to the hill station during the monsoon season.
“The first responder will be the fire stations nearby, and if there is a need, to call in the Special Tactical Operation and Rescue Team of Malaysia (STORM) after assessing the situation,” he said.
Azmi said they had about 40 STORM-capable members who were not only highly trained in tackling such disasters, but were also mentally and physically prepared to handle complicated and time-consuming incidents.
He said the team was trained to use the equipment with care, because a slight mistake could, for example, cause another landslide in the affected area.
He advised motorists to adhere to instructions on the signboards to drive slowly and to stay alert.
“Also, if it is raining heavily, try not to continue driving. Park your vehicle at a safe location until the rain stops,” he said.