Stop uprooting trees in George Town

 |Aug 8, 2016
Trees along Jalan Masjid Negeri, George Town will be uprooted and relocated to widen way.
Trees along Jalan Masjid Negeri, George Town will be uprooted and relocated to widen way.

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has called on the Penang government and councils to stay true to their “green mantra” by aborting the state’s current car-centric policy and replace it with a low-carbon mobility policy.

CAP president SM Mohamed Idris said the policy transformation was vital to decrease carbon footprint, preserve the environment and promote good public health in Penang.

“We need transformative change, from car-oriented growth to low-carbon mobility.

“The current car-centric development pursued by the state government has huge implications to the environment, public health and increases our carbon footprint.

“We call upon the Penang government and the city council to stay true to its green mantra,” said Idris in George Town today.

He was referring to the Penang Island City Council’s road widening project in Jalan Masjid Negeri, George Town that involved relocating 16 roadside trees.

He said the road widening project would not resolve traffic congestion problem in the long-run, adding that the imminent faster traffic flow was going to cause massive social impact on the largely residential, school and commercial area.

He also raised safety concerns on pedestrians having a tough time crossing the road, while road-users would find it difficult to enter and exit the many intersections.

He said CAP was infuriated with the city council move to relocate street trees to widen Jalan Masjid Negeri, that links Gelugor and Air Itam,

CAP is also appalled over the apathy shown by the state authorities and those who remained silent over the desecration of Penang’s trees and hills.

Out of the 16 affected trees in Jalan Masjid Negeri, he said the city council had already given a death sentence to at least three of them as it was projected that the soon to be relocated trees have an 80 percent chance of survival.

CAP has vehemently objected the road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri, George Town.
CAP has vehemently objected the road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri, George Town.

Idris reiterated CAP’s objections to the “sentence akin to death knell” imposed on these trees.

“Trees are one of the most natural valuable assets of any streetscape.

“An iconic image of Penang is its beautiful tree lined roads.

“Remove them, and you remove the charm and character of Penang.

“However, the city council gives scant regard to these roadside trees,” said Idris, stressing that loss of this natural asset from the roadsides was inconceivable.

“Is this the future for Penang that the city council and the state government envisage – more cars, more roads and no trees?” asked Idris.

An established tree, one that has been planted for three or more years, has roots that branch out and extend well beyond the drip line of the tree.

Regardless of the size or age of the tree, removing it and pruning its roots during translocation will bring about physiological changes that affect it.

Moreover, the affected trees would undergo massive stress during removal and re-establishing in their new home.

“Why torture these trees when the solution is simple – do not widen the road,” suggested Idris.

“Trees greatly improve the quality of our lives.

“Do not condemn the trees by relocating them. Let the trees Be.”

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Athi Shankar has been a journalist for past 30 years. He believes that democratic rights come with responsibility.