Complaints raise to the relevant authorities or representatives seem to fell on deaf ears
by AUFA MARDHIAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE March 7 flash flood that hit Kuala Lumpur (KL) has left the people in Peninsular Malaysia exasperated, especially those who were victims of the December 2021 disaster.
Taman Sri Muda Zone D Residents Association (PPTSM) secretary Rosnah Mahmood said Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, which was one of the worst hit in December, was not badly affected from the most recent flood but surrounding areas like Bukit Lanchong, Desa Kemuning and Lembayung were not so lucky.
“It rained every day and water had reached the dangerous level. I saw nearby residents getting ready in case it got worse.
“What actually happened was that the water level at Sungai Rasau increased, entered the ditch and the heavy water broke the bund in Taman Sri Muda,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.
Previously, the water bund was covered by overgrown bushes and surrounded by trees which served as a water-retaining support but they were cut down by the authorities days before the December 2021 floods.
Unfortunately for Taman Sri Muda residents, the authorities resumed the project of levelling the water bund, allowing water from Sungai Rasau to encroach Taman Sri Muda.
PPTSM had been voicing their flood concerns since 2019 and looked for solutions to the problem through letters to the authorities such as the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Selangor, the town mayor, assemblymen and residents’ representative councils but there was no response.
Rosnah hoped that the authorities would raise the low water bund which also cracks easily.
“I also hope that the authorities will permanently close the outlet that resulted in water overflow to Taman Sri Muda,” she added.
Taman Sri Muda resident Mahani Mansor said she gets paranoid whenever there is a downpour.
“Back in 1995, the authorities were quick to do recovery work after a flood incident like deepening the river. So, we hope, this time around, the authorities will also act quickly and build a concrete water bund that could withstand heavy water,” she told TMR.
In Hulu Langat, the situation was also not as bad as last December’s.
Hasan Muhamad Suyat, who runs the Santika Homestay there, hoped that the authorities would intensify their efforts to build cliffs and deepen the river in Kampung Jawa.
“When KL was submerged by floods early this month, we in Hulu Langat also experienced water rising to between our knees and thighs.
“Following the massive floods that hit in December last year, we are now more prepared. We have changed to solid wood furniture that is not easily damaged by water so if another flood occurs, we can leave them behind and save other necessities,” he said.
“It has been three months since the December 2021 floods and to date there has been no effort by the authorities to deepen the shallow river which overflows during downpours,” he added.
Hasan explained that his homestay was in the process of recovery with 80% competition.
“But now we are back to square one due to the second wave of flood that happened on March 7.
“Previously, our pool was filled with waist-level mud, and that was just the pool, not to mention the surrounding area,” he said.
Hasan also expressed his frustration over the authorities’ slow actions as residents need to return to normal life.
“How long are we going to live like this? Generally, we already know that when it rains there is a possibility of flooding in Hulu Langat.
“I really hope the authorities can speed up the efforts to deepen the river so we can resume our normal life,” he said, adding that his homestay business has been losing income for three months.
“When we were about to restart, there came the flood again. The process of repairing a house is not cheap so if another flood occurs, it is difficult for us to survive,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Azree Azizan whose office is on Jalan Pinang, KL, recount the anxious moments of the March 7 flash flood.
“I was on the road at around 2.30pm when most roads were already flooded. Cars were making U-turns on the one-way road.
“At the office building, for the first time ever in flooding history, the lobby and basement parking were filled with water,” he told TMR.
“The government should seriously look into this issue since this is not the first flood incident that happened in KL, proper drainage systems should be in place,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Association for the Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia VP 2 Sophine Tann agreed that the floods were caused by both drastic climate changes and poor maintenance.
“Trees and roots provide a cementing effect on the cliff and mountain side, so when you take all that away there is nothing to stop the surface runoff.
“With the surface running off and water going off like that, it is not a surprise if all the biomass would go down to where the water would go across rivers, streams,” she said.
She noted that rural areas do not have much concrete work so water run offs are still quite natural. However, because of biomass logging, there is nowhere else for the water to go but the sea and causing flash floods.
“Meanwhile, in urban areas, we have so much construction and development and it keeps on increasing, so local authorities must ensure there is enough drainage to cater for the development,” she added.
Tann also opined that for short and long terms, there should be a law against unethical logging like the “dishwashing” style of land clearing.
“Also, there needs to be an immediate moratorium on logging for at least 20 years for forests to recover,” she added.
TMR also spoke to Mercy Malaysia GM (programme operations) Mohammad Said Alhudzari Ibrahim who described that the impact from the recent KL flash flood as serious, but not as extensive as the floods of December 2021.
“According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, we will have heavy rains and thunderstorms until May. Therefore, we anticipate more flash floods and localised landslides,” he said.
Mercy Malaysia is assisting flood victims with cleaning works as well as medical, such as hygiene kit distributions. Its mental health and psychosocial support services helpline is also on standby.
On March 8, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the heavy rainfall, up to half a month’s worth of rain in just two hours, was the cause of the floods in the capital city.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun has also preliminarily accepted the motion on the recent flash floods to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat following a notice from Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun and Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil.