Focus View
Can we stop landslides from recurring?
FocusM team | 27 Oct 2017 00:30
The recent landslide mishap in Penang which claimed 11 lives has led to finger pointing among several parties. It is worse when politicians join the fray.  

This is not the first major landslide disaster in the country in recent times and given the slack enforcement, it will not be the last. The latest landslide occurred at a construction site for affordable housing in Tanjung Bungah. 
 
Fingers were pointed at the Penang government for going ahead with the project despite the rejection by the Department of Environment (DOE). However, it was later pointed out that a one-stop centre comprising 20 federal and state technical agencies approved the project.
 
It is clear from these recurring mishaps that there is a lack of clear guidelines and strict enforcement. Also, in what circumstances can the DOE’s view be ignored? 
 
Amidst all the finger pointing, the latest incident could simply be a construction site mishap. Not many may be willing to accept such a conclusion though. But how severely have contractors been penalised for the more than 2,000 accidents involving 143 deaths so far? 

The Institution of Engineers said many construction incidents are due to the contractor’s failure to engage professional engineers to carry out the design and supervision of temporary works which facilitated construction.
 
In the Tanjung Bungah mishap, not only must the guilty parties be identified and held responsible, the penalty must be severe so it acts as a deterrent to others. 

In light of this, what is being done to ensure landslides and soil erosion at Cameron Highlands in Pahang and some areas in Selangor do not recur? Shouldn’t the authorities responsible for monitoring and enforcing this be taken to task if it happens? 

It also a pity that post-mishap sentiments are often fuelled by politicians. They jump in to be the judge and jury even before any proper investigations can be done. It’s best that politicians who have nothing to do with the issue stop confusing the people with their allegations. 

Environmentalists have cautioned that there are numerous other projects in the country that are experiencing some form of soil degradation. Unless there is political will to put an end to wanton destruction of our hills and forests, including illegal logging, more lives and property will be lost.