Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has urged the Penang State Government and local authorities to implement preventive and mitigation measures after investigating the cause of the flash floods that occurred in several areas in the State especially in Teluk Kumbar, Permatang Damar Laut, Batu Maung and Bayan Lepas.
Heavy rains that started around 6.00 pm on 29th November 2015 caused water level to rise rapidly and affected several residential areas, causing damage to properties, household items, vehicles, and incurring economic losses.
In the survey and information gathered by SAM, we believe that the flash floods are caused by a few factors such as incomplete road works and several ongoing construction projects along with poor drainage system in the affected areas.
These development projects have caused sedimentation and obstructed water flow in the drains. In addition, the existing drainage system cannot cope with the rapid development, thus increasing the risk of more flash floods in the future.
SAM is disappointed that the authorities have not taken effective action to address these unresolved problems. Taking into cognizance that Penang is becoming more vulnerable to flash floods, preventive and mitigating strategies have to be amplified.
Catchment-wide interventions are needed to decrease surface runoff and soil erosion. Proper land use planning with restriction of development on hillslopes, flood plains and flood-prone areas is essential. The authorities are also urged to monitor ongoing development projects and ensure structural measures that are undertaken to mitigate floods are effective and environmentally friendly.
Rapid development, coastal reclamation, concretisation of the island and deforestation of the hills are contributing to environmental degradation in Penang and increasing vulnerability to floods. We call upon the state government to deal with urgent environmental problems in the state and shift away from unsustainable development.
S.M. MOHAMED IDRIS