Stop short-sighted urban planning; improve flood resilience, says TBRA

The Tanjung Bunga Residents’ Association (TBRA) is once again calling for the state to halt all short-sighted and patchy urban planning that continues to cause more flooded homes, uprooted trees, and power cuts, making travel inconvenient.

TBRA wants the state to relook at all its urban and sub-urban development projects to see how it can improve the state’s ability to resist and absorb floods. Flood resilience should be a matter of intense and consistent focus by the government in light of the worsening flood conditions in Penang.

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 and near hill slopes. Residents must consistently struggle to replace lost belongings and pay for repairs to their homes and vehicles.

We therefore urge the state to develop a holistic flood prevention and mitigation initiative and to stop leaving crucial work like this principally in the hands of developers.

Penangites have seen how poor urban planning has resulted in the recent fatal landslide and today’s (5 November) sinkhole that tore up a road in front a new luxury development in Tanjung Bunga.

Both 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.

By cutting into the hills, developers can claim to build on “flat land”, but even without heavy rain, the build-up pressure of the water most likely caused the landslide on 21 October.

Developers know this risk but profit pressure closes their eyes. Their luck is running out.
These are no longer isolated incidents and the residents of Penang 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.

Agnes James is vice-chair of the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association.

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