GEORGE TOWN, Sept 20 — The winding Sungai Pinang, described as the dirtiest river in the country, will have to undergo rehabilitation works to prevent flash floods similar to one which took place on Sunday.
State Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director Sabri Abdul Mulok said deepening and widening the river would solve the flooding problem affectings residents in nearby Jalan P. Ramlee.
“The flood mitigation project together with a retaining wall can stop the floods, but it would be very costly, maybe more than RM600 million. We need assistance from the federal government to carry out the project,” he said.
State government, traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow concurred with Sabri, and said the state government was awaiting the federal government’s approval.
Described as the largest flood mitigation project in the country, the Sungai Pinang project was conceptualised as a long-term solution to the flooding problems of residents in the vicinity every time there is a downpour.
On Sunday, a nine-hour thunderstorm hit Penang, disrupting the lives of many residents and tourists who were there for the long weekend. Jalan P. Ramlee was among the worst affected areas.
“The project will help prevent water from Sungai Pinang overflowing and causing flash floods,” Chow said.
“At state-level, the DID will deepen the river as a short-term measure, while we await the response from the federal government.”
Chow said the state government would look at the drainage systems to find out why flood waters had not drained as quickly as they should.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, RM805.4 million had been allocated for flood mitigation projects in the state.
The state government had sent a requisition letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Oct 9 last year, and in December, Dato Keramat assemblyman Jagdeep Singh Deo urged the federal government to keep its promise on an allocation of funds.
Jagdeep had said the state government helped some 230 squatters there to relocate to new homes as the federal government had promised to fund the project only after they had been moved away from the riverbank.
“Another 101 structures had also been relocated to make way for the project,” he said yesterday.
“The state government has discharged its responsibility and it is up to the federal government to play its role.
“Even though we have yet to receive the funds, we are engaging with the federal government to come up with a solution.”