Residents hit by mudflow living on a prayer

By May Robertson

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Their worst fears came true. After two incidents, residents in Ampang, at the foothills of the Semenyih-Ampang once green lung range, are now bracing for more calamities.

Those staying in Taman Bukit Teratai, an upper-middle-class suburb, had predicted mudflows before hillside clearing works for the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Expressway (SUKE) started early last month.

Taman Bukit Teratai was hit by a mudflow last Tuesday following the construction of the dual carriage expressway. The area was first hit in the middle of last month.

Taman Bukit Ampang Residents’ Association member and “Say No To SUKE”chairman Muhammad Agos Abul Hasan Ashari said the felling of trees had caused soil erosion and mudflows.

“This finding was based on an Environmental Impact Assessment we conducted two years ago,” he said.

“This was a known fact but it fell on deaf ears.”

Bukit Manda’rina Residents’ Association chairman Colin Stuart said he was worried his neighbourhood would be hit by a similar incident.

“It’s impossible not to worry considering SUKE will be built near us,” he said.

“We could be affected ... what happens if a house collapses? Residents shouldn’t have to live in fear.”

Teratai assemblyman Tiew Way Keng said the mudflow last week was something the residents had been concerned about since they were told of the project in 2015.

“When the project developer, Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas), first proposed the highway plan to us, we were worried about the likelihood of floods,” she said.

“It’s a shame their worst fears were realised in such a terrible way.”

A resident in Taman Bukit Segar Jaya 2, who identified himself as Kuah, said he was worried an even bigger mudflow would strike his area.

“Bukit Saga is nearby and a river there called Sungai Putih sometimes overflows,” he said.

“Water from the river would come down the hill. It would be worst if there were no trees mitigating the flow.”

Kuah urged Prolintas to meet residents and address their concerns.

Following Tuesday’s incident, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council ordered Prolintas to carry out desilting of drains, clean up retention pools on the hillside and fix gabion walls to trap rain water on hillslopes.

The residential area was hit by a mudflow on March 20, resulting in a stop-work order by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council.

In October 2015, Malay Mail reported the 31.8km three-lane dual carriage expressway would cut through more than 60 housing areas between Sri Petaling and Ulu Kelang including Sungai Besi, Alam Damai, Cheras-Kajang, Taman Bukit Permai, Taman Putra, Taman Dagang Permai, Taman Kosas, Taman Hillview and Hulu Klang.

Many residents had cried foul over the project, claiming it was shrouded in secrecy.

They were left in the dark on whether their homes would be acquired to make way for the project.