GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government should stop sympathising with project developers and ensure the safety of Penangites in landslide-prone areas.
People’s Alternative Party (PAP) vice-president Rahmad Isahak in saying this, pointed out that this is especially applicable on developers who have purchased hillslope lands to be made into housing projects but their projects are now stalled due to landslide scares.
Housing projects built on hills should not be given priority, he said, but the lives and property of those living nearby should, especially the thousands of residents living along the coastal stretch of Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi whom he described as living in a state of trauma following the onslaught of landslides and floods that have been plaguing Penang.
“They are yet to recover from the shock of the Oct 21 landslide and the floods in September and now with the most recent flood disaster last week, everyone is living in fear.
“It’s pointless for the federal government to allocate funds in the millions of ringgit for the purpose of flood mitigation projects if the state government is egoistically approving hillslope development projects.
“The state government’s behaviour also gives rise to the question of whether it would become bankrupt without development of that nature, at the expense of Penangites,” he said.
The party is pressing for a setting-up of an independent technical committee with expertise in hillslope development together with the Penang Island Municipal Council (MBPP) Engineering Department to carry out monitoring in ensuring safety of the residential homes built on hillslopes.
This, he said, would include locations gazetted for agriculture and water catchment which used to be outside the development zone but had been approved to be converted into development projects.
He also urged for the Penang state government to halt all approval for hillslope development projects and instead focus on monitoring the safety aspects of all hillslope projects which have been built or those that are still under construction.
“Enough is enough with the countless projects of that nature that have been approved.
“Private property developers have made their fortune as long as development fees are paid as revenue to the state government until the issue of “ratio plot” on density have exceeded the existing guidelines,” said Rahmad in a statement here today.
He said the sight of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was too much to be borne by Penangites who did not wish to see their chief minister tear up due to natural disasters and also due to flash floods that are caused by over-development from projects that were approved by the state government itself. – MO