Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is shocked by the landslide that occurred at the Sheikh Tahir Astronomy Center, Jalan Pantai Acheh, Balik Pulau, Penang recently.
The information that we obtained stated that the cause of the incident was the failure of stone pitching used for slope protection due to heavy rains that had caused large boulders to slide.
Information from the same source also revealed that the Mufti Department was given a proposal sometime in 2016 or 2017 to make improvements for slope protection in the area by IKRAM and the JKR but due to several factors presented these proposals were rejected or not approved.
Whilst the building at the Centre is reportedly safe as there is no damage to its structure, we are have concerns over the potential ramifications of the landslide and call for urgent scrutiny from the authorities to prevent any untoward incident.
The Penang State Government, the local authority, Penang State Mufti Department, and the Sheikh Tahir Astronomy Center must ensure immediate rectification and rehabilitation of the slope to ensure its safety and stability. Mitigation measures are needed to prevent the recurrence of landslides in future.
Nearby residents who are at risk need to be evacuated to avert any further tragedies, until their safety can be assured.
SAM views that all hills slopes and high risk areas on the Island should be inspected regularly to ensure safety from incidences of erosion or landslides, especially during intense rainfalls and with the advent of climate change, where we will face more frequent intense storms and heavy rains.
SAM reiterates our stance that we do not support any hill slope development, as we are concerned about such slope failures, endangering lives, and causing damage to property, besides destruction of the hill ecosystem.