Penang gov't hopes to start flood mitigation project ahead of schedule

MOHAMED BASYIR


GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government hopes that the Sungai Pinang Basin Flood Mitigation Project (SPBFMP) will commence sooner than scheduled to avoid another major flood catastrophe in the island’s northeast district.

Areas often worst-hit by floods – including Jalan P Ramlee, Jalan Gemas and Jalan Langkawi – come under the constituency of Dato Keramat assemblyman, Jagdeep Singh Deo, who has stressed that the flood mitigation project should be expedited.

"After conferring with the state Department for Irrigation and Drainage (DID), I was told that the project will only begin in Nov this year. Bear in mind that we are only in early April, (so) the gap is too big.

"The main reason for the (recent) flooding was the heavy rain, and the Sungai Pinang overflowing. It can no longer contain much water, and will cause more floods in the future. SPBFMP is the answer to it," he said in a press conference at the Methodist Boys School, Jalan Air Itam here, yesterday.

Last year, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar announced that the ministry had approved RM150 million for the flood mitigation project.

Jagdeep, however, pointed out that of the RM150 million, only RM1 million has been approved for a design study so far.

"Why has the full sum not been disbursed so that the entire project can be implemented without any delay?"

"I hope Penang Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman can assist on this matter, so that the project can (commence) as soon as possible," he added.

Meanwhile, Northeast District DID engineer Zahid Zainal Abidin, who was also present during the press conference, said that the deepening and installation of rock gabion will be conducted at Sungai Air Itam, in efforts to minimise floods and soil erosion along the river.

A sum of RM174,100 has been allocated by the state government, and the project is expected to be completed by June 15.

"Eleven other projects involving Sungai Jelutong and Sungai Mati will also be conducted, costing (upwards of) RM1 million to minimise floods in the district," he added.