January 10, 2013
By : Rosalina Hajjar, Batu Caves, Selangor | letters@nstp.com.my

FLOODS: We have the resources but lack initiative

ALTHOUGH government officials, environmentalists, road-users and residents have long-known which areas are flood-prone for a long time, little has been done to overcome the problem.

They also know the causes of floods -- large-scale logging, hill devastation causing soil erosion and landslides, widespread deforestation, housing construction, industrial development, clogged drains and canals, overflowing rivers and shortage of water outlets.

With satellite technology today, we can even know in advance when and where floods can occur.

Yet, today, they can only issue warnings because of the lack of effective anti-flooding measures. As such, the people will face widespread and serious floods for some time to come.

In financial terms, we stand to lose millions of ringgit because of this. The risk of the loss of innocent lives must also be taken into consideration.

How effective is the smart tunnel in preventing floods? A mega-project does not necessarily resolve a recurring problem in the long run.

As a result of floods, schools and clinics are closed, shops lose business, roads and townships are inundated, vehicles stall, homes get waterlogged and furniture and equipment get damaged.

Invariably, we blame floods on freak storms, monsoon havoc and inclement weather.

But we need to take a closer look at rivers and canals that are not desilted and drains that are narrow and clogged.

One example is the drain in Persiaran Meranti, Bandar Sri Damansara, that is blocked by rubbish, branches and undergrowth.

As large-scale housing, industrial, hill and infrastructure development projects take place, we overlook the critical shortage of outlets for excess water, proper drainage systems and good environmental control.

It seems that we simply let floods occur despite knowing the consequences. We have the resources to deal with floods but lack initiative, prudence and urgency.

In many respects, we remain backwards and indifferent where floods are concerned.

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