After latest fatal landslide, Penang group calls for bigger budget to reinforce slopes

A view of the construction area where a landslide occurred last Friday that killed several foreign workers. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A view of the construction area where a landslide occurred last Friday that killed several foreign workers. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 25 ― The Penang government should increase its budget to strengthen hill slopes, a local civil group said today after a landslide at Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong last Friday killed nine workers and injured four others.

Calling itself AnakPinang, the group suggested the RM10 million budgeted this year to reinforce slopes may be insufficient.

“This year, RM10 million was allocated for hill strengthening. The state should allocate more for next year’s budget,” it said it a statement.

AnakPinang wants the state government and the relevant authorities to introduce better mitigation measures for developments near hilly terrain.

Group member Joshua Woo also mooted a dedicated state department in charge of strengthening slopes, adding that better planning is needed to tackle climate change effects on Penang.

“There should be better monitoring and enforcement of these projects,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

AnakPinang also welcomed Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s instructions for all state agencies to evaluate every ongoing and upcoming infrastructure projects in the state.

“Penang must continue to progress through development to become a more economically established and socially resilient state,” it said.

The group stressed that the state should not cancel all of its planned infrastructure projects but instead, take critical steps to ensure safety measures are adhered to.

“Since Penang island has limited flat land, we cannot rule out necessary development that may involve hillslope,” it said.

They also urged the state government to conduct thorough investigation on the Bukit Kukus incident.

“The state needs to give the public an answer as to what went wrong in the project,” the group said.

Last Friday’s landslide occurred at the construction site of the Bukit Kukus paired roads project that is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan, just a week after 11 beams fell onto a slope at another site for the same project.

Last year on October 21, a landslide at a housing project in Tanjung Bungah killed 11 workers.