A Penang residents’ association has called on the state government to develop a holistic flood prevention and mitigation initiative following massive Penang flood which paralysed the state and left at least three people dead.
Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) vice-chairman Agnes James said flood resilience should be a matter of “intense and consistent focus” by the government.
She said the state government should stop leaving crucial work like this principally in the hands of developers.
“Yesterday’s storm hobbled the city’s infrastructure by nightfall, downing power in a number of areas and blocking roads.
“This happened despite the best efforts of the state and millions of ringgit invested in flood mitigation projects over the years.
“Penangites continue to suffer repeated flooding primarily in low-lying areas, and are now facing new areas of flooding following developments on or near hill slopes.
“Residents must consistently struggle to replace lost belongings and pay for repairs to their homes and vehicles,” she said in a statement today.
Agnes urged the state to relook all its urban and suburban development projects to see how the state’s ability to resist and absorb floods could be improved.
She reiterated TBRA’s call for the state government to halt all short-sighted and patchy urban planning that continued to cause more flooded homes, uprooted trees and power cuts, making travel inconvenient.
“Penangites have seen how poor urban planning has resulted in the recent fatal landslide and today’s sinkhole that tore up a road in front of a new luxury development in Tanjung Bungah.
“Both projects were cut into the hills, which are known to be watershed areas.
“These two projects had major accidents despite having been developed, approved and monitored by qualified experts,” she said.
Agnes said that by cutting into hills, developers could claim to build on “flat land” but even without heavy rain, the build-up pressure from the water most likely caused the landslide on Oct 21, which took 11 lives of workers.
She said that these were no longer isolated incidents and Penangites will no longer be silent.
“Clearly, there has been a failure in hasty and risky development and we hope the state can employ qualified experts to help them draw up a checklist for all dangers surrounding high-rise construction as well as develop a comprehensive flood prevention plan.
“Tropical storms are an annual affair, and their impact in the form of economic losses could well be more frequent and greater in the near future.
“Penang must be prepared,” she added.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had today said that the massive flooding was a result of excessive rain recorded in the state over the last 15 hours.
He had said the equivalent of one-and-a-half months’ of rain was recorded in Penang in less than 24 hours.
This was likely due to the effects of Typhoon Damrey which had wreaked havoc in Vietnam, he had added.
Lim said Butterworth recorded 372mm of rain last night – the highest on record in the state. The previous highest recorded rainfall was 315mm at the Air Itam Dam not long ago.
The flooding was also blamed on the high tide phenomenon, coupled with rubbish in drains that blocked smooth flow of water.
Meanwhile, Penang DAP secretary Lim Hui Ying, in a statement, said the Penang DAP had decided to launch a Penang Storm and Flood Relief Fund to help flood victims.
A donation drive will be held from Nov 6 to 15. The funds will be handed over to the state government.
“Well-wishers who want to donate can do so by cash or cheque payable to Penang DAP at No 3, Jalan Rangoon, George Town.
“They can also bank in to DAP Penang at Maybank account number 5070-1301-4596,” she said.