Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Danger of landslides in Tanjong Bunga

Despite the rain, YB Teh Yee Cheu  always attracts reporters
On Saturday, 27 Aug., YB Teh Yee Cheu gave a press conference at Solok Tan Jit Seng, Tanjung Bunga. As always and despite the rain, many reporters had gathered to hear him. Contrary to other State officials, Assemblyman Teh is known to speak his mind and stand up for our environment and object to the over-development in Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi.

This time he chose a place with dangerous erosion to tell the press about new studies that show how Penang is one of 3 States considered to be at high risk for landslides. He emphasized that MPPP does not have the geo-technical knowledge to judge the hazards of construction on steep hill slopes; that therefore MPPP should be accountable for any future disaster that might strike in locations where it had approved projects.

Will this hold?  During the press conference, workers quickly spread more covers against further erosion by the rain.

Another speaker, Professor Dr Jimmy Lim, a well-known KL architect, pointed at the concrete pillars designed to protect the dug-out hillside below and said that modern technology would never choose concrete pilings in a place like this where solid granite bedrock can be used. The Pearl Hill Townhouses just 100 meters directly above the excavated cliff looked dangerously exposed.

TBRA has protested against the Solok Tan Jit Seng development (23 three-storey linkhouses) long before it was approved. After protracted debate, the Penang Planning Appeals Board judged a geo-tech study sufficient and a new developer was allowed to begin construction. So, since this project has been approved, one can only hope for the best. Meanwhile, MPPP as the endorser, must take full responsibility for possible mishaps.

Professor Lim pointing to outdated construction methods

Professor Lim also commented on the incredible ‘development’ allowed on the North Coast. While TBRA and the Batu Ferringhi Residents’ Association (BFRA) have long protested and are fully aware of the many hazards associated with the dozen or more projects along the road to Batu Ferringhi, it was interesting to hear the views of an outsider. Professor Lim said the coastal road had been built by the British for minimal traffic at the time; it was never meant to accommodate the thousands of cars and busses plying that road now.

Basically”, he said, “it is a cul de sac, a dead-end road, meaning all who go down, use the same road to come back. (Yes, technically, they can return via Balik Pulau, but who would come back that way after a dinner in Batu Ferringhi? No-one, right ? ) So, as a cul de sac, one has to apply the simple density rules that apply in such cases. By adding on 100 townhouses here and five high-rise buildings there, the colonial-built road now is way over capacity. It is irresponsible and beyond belief that still more construction is allowed.”

George Aeria, the TBRA chairman, applauded YB Teh’s initiative to highlight the new studies showing the dangers of landslides in Penang and two other States. He reminded the reporters of TBRA’s calls to the State government to put an immediate stop to all projects on Class III and IV hill slope gradients and end any further approvals of development projects on steep slopes. He also recalled how TBRA had pleaded with successive authorities to disapprove the Tan Jit Seng construction and how residents had held a peaceful but massive protest on the very place of this press conference (see coffee party video part 1 and part 2). Despite all this, it had been approved and construction is underway– MPPP now must ensure intensive slope maintenance and monitoring and take full responsibility for any disaster that might strike.

Elky for TBRA blogsite

The Penang public just wants its hills preserved, guarded and cared for; we look to our state government to ensure that self-serving, profit-driven entrepreneurs take their ill-conceived plans elsewhere. Our future and the future of our children cannot be left in the hands of developers.

Penang Forum Steering Committee
27 August 2011
Also see NST article "Nod based on flawed methods," 29-8-2011 with picture

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