HILL SLOPES WOE WORST IN SABAH
Sabah has been identified as the state with the most problematic hill slopes in the country and therefore mitigation must be done to prevent the worst from happening.
Federal Public Works Department Slope Engineering Branch Director, Datuk Dr Ashaari Mohamed said the mitigation plans are in the National Slope Master Plan currently in the final stages of completion.
Speaking to reporters before closing a slope management seminar here yesterday, Ashaari said the master plan is expected to be completed by the end of this year and presented to the Cabinet for perusal. “The master plan is for all states and we hope the Cabinet will approve the additional funding needed for the mitigation programme,” he said adding that the master plan will also include what to do, how to manage slopes, what laws to follow and how to mitigate slopes problem. It also puts emphasis on creating public awareness about slopes especially among those who live in hilly areas as these are the people who have firsthand information as to what is happening in the vicinity. “This is a three-year programme which will end in 2010 and Sabah is the second state we hold the seminar because we have identified some states which have more problems with slopes and Sabah is on top of the list,” he added. According to him, most of the problematic areas in terms of roads are along the Ranau-Tamparuli stretch which was built by the Japanese 20 years ago.
The area, which is a popular tourist destination, also has a lot of geological movement, he said, adding that all the problems identified there have to be taken care of. ‘We cannot stop landslides but we can mitigate so that landslides do not occur. This way there will be no casualties and loss of property,” he said, adding that once a problematic area has been identified, the Unit will conduct a detailed study there and come up with mitigation plans. One area where a detailed study was done was in Ulu Klang after the collapse of the Highland Towers ‘ apartments, he said, adding that the study was done following a Cabinet decision as it wanted to know which are the areas which could be developed and vice versa. Ashaari said the Unit would be more than happy to assist the Sabah Government to do a detailed study on the problematic areas in the State so that it can have a better insight into the matter as well as understand the situation and plan further. He added that creating awareness among the public about hill slopes is important as those living on slopes are living dangerously in that the ground may one day fail and the incident could cost lives. “We want these people especially those living in hilly areas to be able to take the necessary action if they see something wrong with the slope,” he stressed. He also said that the Unit is working closely with the State PWD to rectify the problem with the Kimanis-Keningau road which was believed to have faulty design.According to Ashaari, the Unit is also trying to enhance several laws pertaining to development on hill slopes to prevent any untoward incidents. He expressed hope that local authorities would initiate the move and instruct developers, especially those on hilly areas, to get their design plans checked and approved by the Unit before commencing work. “There are already guidelines under the respective Acts to be followed by the developers but we are ready to assist and advise them if there is a need,” he added. Meanwhile, Ashaari said the seminar attracted 94 people from
various organizations including local authorities, local Government agencies, SHAREDA, architects, Sabah Law Association and engineers. He said the seminar, which was organized together with the City Hall, was not only for the relevant Government agencies throughout Malaysia but also professional bodies, slope owners, people living around slopes or areas prone to landslides, schoolchildren, teachers and the general public. “The seminar for the various Government agencies and local authorities marks the kick-off of the public awareness campaign not only to share our knowledge about landslides and slope management but to also convey the message that creating safer slopes can be achieved with close cooperation by all parties. The Slope Engineering Branch is a division of Jabatan Kerja Raya Malaysia and was set up in 2004 to ensure safer slopes through the formulation of proactive slope policies, comprehensive slope management, higher safety standards for slopes and better public awareness on slope hazards.