Penang building sites 'ignoring' soil erosion mitigation plans

Search and rescue operations yesterday at a construction site hit by a landslide in Penang. It is believed that construction sites are not following the soil erosion mitigation plan stipulated in their project approvals.
Search and rescue operations yesterday at a construction site hit by a landslide in Penang. It is believed that construction sites are not following the soil erosion mitigation plan stipulated in their project approvals.PHOTO: BERNAMA

GEORGE TOWN • A deadly landslide at a building site in Penang has led to the shocking revelation that not a single construction site in the Malaysian state is following the soil erosion mitigation plan stipulated in their project approvals.

The Star has learnt that the state government launched Ops Lumpur shortly after the general election, requiring enforcement officers from the local councils to inspect and report on every construction site in all five districts in the state.

A consultant civil engineer familiar with Ops Lumpur claimed that every single construction project did not observe the soil erosion mitigation plan.

He said Ops Lumpur was overseen directly by state exco members, and enforcement officers were required to visit the sites.

"Now you know why streams near construction sites are always yellow when it rains," he said.

The consultant engineer said the state went after developers, which claimed they were not aware of the soil erosion mitigation plan and blamed the contractors.

"Civil engineers are often disgusted when they do site visits because it is common for us to see that the soil erosion mitigation plans are never followed," he said.

DISREGARD FOR RULES

Civil engineers are often disgusted when they do site visits because it is common for us to see that the soil erosion mitigation plans are never followed.

A CONSULTANT CIVIL ENGINEER, who claims that every single construction project in Penang did not observe the soil erosion mitigation plan.

The consultant said it was easy to inspect construction sites and check on the progress, and questioned whether state government agencies regularly conducted scheduled and surprise visits.

"How often do they conduct spot checks? How strictly do they conduct enforcement rounds on construction sites? If we keep contractors on their toes all the time, we might not have so many landslides," he said, referring to the latest landslide, which occurred last Friday in Bukit Kukus, the site of a hillside highway from Paya Terubong to Bukit Jambul.

 

Four bodies have been recovered from the landslide area, while three more people are believed to be still buried under the debris, the Bernama news agency reported. Three people were found alive but injured.

Speaking about the landslide during a public event yesterday, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said development projects, especially those on hillsides or mountain slopes, should be studied to ensure that they do not damage the environment and affect safety.

"The trees that grow in the jungle should be taken care of as they can act to stabilise the land," he was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini news site.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Penang building sites 'ignoring' soil erosion mitigation plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe