KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — The Syarikat Mengurus Air Banjir dan Terowong Sdn Bhd (SMART) highway tunnel has set a new record of sorts when it was activated for about 22 hours to divert the rising waters of the Klang River following continuous heavy downpours yesterday.

Environment and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang said during the period, the SMART Tunnel, built at a cost of over RM1 billion, had diverted five million cubic metres of water since it was activated at 1.32 pm yesterday until noon today.

He said it was a new record for the SMART Tunnel diversion control as, since 2007, a total of eight diversions were made and in each operation only about three hours of operation were recorded.

“However, for this ninth diversion, from yesterday until noon today, was carried out for about 22 hours due to the very high rain intensity in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor,” he said at a press conference at the SMART Tunnel operations office here, today.

Zaini said based on estimates by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID), if five million cubic metres of water had not been drained, areas in the heart of Kuala Lumpur such as the Masjid Jamek area would have experienced major floods.

“Apart from the SMART Tunnel, DID assets around Kuala Lumpur such as pump houses have also been operating at maximum capacity since yesterday, so despite heavy rain and the water release by Batu Dam, Kuala Lumpur only experienced minor flooding,” he added.

Meanwhile, SMART said in a statement that five million cubic metres of water had been successfully diverted from Sungai Klang and Sungai Ampang to the Taman Desa Reservoir.

“The process of pumping water out downstream of the river has not been able to be carried out because the river water level is still high at the downstream area of the SMART system.

“SMART requests that users be patient and cooperate by paying attention to announcements regarding the operating status of the SMART Highway Tunnel broadcast through media and variable message signs (VMS),” the statement read. — Bernama