Manufacturers want better flood warning system

By Jonathan Edward
A man surveys the flood at the junction of Macalister Road (right) and Jalan Datuk Keramat in George Town November 5, 2017. — Picture courtesy of Ang Joo Tat

PETALING JAYA, Nov 11 — A system capable of providing accurate and timely information on potential storms is urgently needed to safeguard the country’s manufacturing base and other industries, said the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.

Its chief executive officer Yeoh Oon Tean said the recent Penang floods had demonstrated such a need.

“Our members have suffered huge material and financial losses after the recent floods and we feel that this could have been partly avoided if some warning system had been in place,” he said.

“We urge the state and federal authorities to build such a system, not just in Penang but nationwide, as an economic safeguard and a means of preparing the public in case of adverse weather.”

On Thursday, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said it would cost an additional RM550 million to extend the flood early warning system that had been built in the peninsula’s east coast to cover the whole country.

Yeoh also said the floods had exposed the precarious standard of readiness by the state government and that remedial measures should be put into immediate effect.

“The Penang government did not have the manpower and equipment to handle the floods and the island's drainage system was inadequate in draining the huge flow of water,” he said.

“There is also much left to be desired with the standard operating procedures on disaster management and more must be done to ensure better coordination.”

While the heavy rainfall was not “anybody’s fault”, Yeoh said this was no excuse not to prepare for the possibility of future floods with effective troubleshooting and preparation.

He said despite a warning being issued by Meteorological Department on November 1, there had been a lack of follow through.

“Early alerts and warnings should have triggered the necessary follow-up actions, especially to set up relief centres and early evacuation of high-risk areas.

“Hence, we are most concerned over effective coordination and mobilisation of resources,” he said, adding that reaction times needed to be improved.

Yeoh also urged higher investments in flood and disaster mitigation programmes to be carried out concurrently with the increase in land development, especially in ensuring efficient drainage and regular maintenance.