Prof: Assess soil, engineering parameters before development

PETALING JAYA: The Batang Kali landslide tragedy proves that past development history needs to be well documented and assessed for future development planning, says Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Faculty of Engineering dean Prof Dr Edy Tonnizam Mohamad.

This is due to the many landslides in the country involving cut-and-filled soil, he said.

“This kind of soil is loose and highly susceptible to rain, which will further weaken the strength and eventually reduce stability of the soil. When there is water flow, the risk of soil failure will increase.”

The point is it is not only important to assess the soil or engineering parameters but also the past construction working procedures, he stressed.

“With these measures, a more holistic assessment could be carried out before embarking on any future plan.”

Recreational spots must also be checked by qualified bodies prior to getting operating licences. Also, recreational operators should be trained to monitor and regularly perform checks on their sites and report their findings to the authorities, he suggested.

Tropical countries like Malaysia are susceptible to many types of natural hazards due to heavy rainfall, said Prof Edy.

High-risk areas such as those near hill slopes, waterfalls and rivers need to be identified and evaluated thoroughly by qualified technical personnel and departments before permission and licenses are granted, he said.

“The extent of the impacted area depends a lot on the history of soil behaviour and not only on the height of slope and soil engineering parameters.

“The public may not be aware of this matter, so qualified technical departments are needed to advise and regulate on the sufficient buffer zone area,” he said.

Safety activist Captain K. Balasupramaniam agreed with Prof Edy’s point on the role of recreational operators, saying they have a duty to carry out inspections around the parameters of their premises and note down their observations.

“Observe, check, audit and report. These things should be part of their standard operating procedures.

“We need to come up with guidelines, yes, but operators must take responsibility if they are running a place because they have to ensure safety.

“Instead of being afraid of the authorities, it is best if they work with them when they notice anything amiss so that they can have the support they need,” he said.

Just to be on the safe side, he said, operators should have a registration database and mapping of the whole area and land conditions.

Repair work and rehabilitation must be conducted regularly, he said, adding that feedback from guests could help them identify the areas that require maintenance.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said the Health Ministry will need to look into ensuring sufficient air ambulance services.

This is because many of the hill slope/hillside or riverside resorts are located far away from healthcare facilities and may be difficult to access even by road in the event of any emergency, he said.

As immediate steps to prevent another landslide tragedy, the MMA has urged the authorities to immediately conduct inspections on all hill slope and hillside properties around the country, Dr Raj added.

“The risk needs to be immediately assessed as heavy rainfall is expected during this time of year. The public need to also do their part in reporting any signs of possible landslides to the authorities as there may be new unidentified high risk sites,” he said.

Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In Nation

Sulu heirs can’t rely on sham award, says Azalina over landmark victory
Coffeeshop associations say GEG Bill flawed, call for review
Customer ran amok in restaurant after being called 'pak cik', say cops
Johor MACC arrests civil servant over bribery
Pharmaceutical company Colourcon picks Johor to set up manufacturing plant, says exco member
Failed opportunity for Dewan Rakyat to scrutinise AG report due to Opposition’s refusal to debate, says Azalina
‘Kedah owns Penang’ issue: Cops to record Sanusi’s statement on June 7
Mt Kinabalu Climbathon to make a comeback, says Liew
Six pupils suffer minor injuries in Tawau accident
Paris Court of Appeal favours Malaysia, sets aside award to Sulu heirs

Others Also Read