PHW said conservation work must be carried out immediately on hillslopes that were at risk of collapse. NSTP/ Danial Saad

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Hills Watch (PHW) is urging the state government to overcome weaknesses in managing and monitoring hillslope projects, especially those under the purview of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

This follows revelations of failure on the part of local authorities to enforce the law and monitor construction sites, especially at Bukit Kukus.

In a statement, PHW said conservation work must be carried out immediately on hillslopes that were at risk of collapse.

“New laws against developers, contractors or consultants for hillslope project must be drafted to ensure they can be penalised heavily if there are found to be elements of negligence.

“Local authorities must be more sensitive with extra safety precautionary measures to be taken for existing projects at hillslopes by ordering developers to adhere to all aspects.

“The authorities should also stop approving new hillslope or hillside projects and take the blame, without pointing fingers at weather conditions or other factors.”

On Friday, a massive landslide struck the Bukit Kukus paired road project construction site.

Three individuals were rescued.

Nine bodies were retrieved from the site of the rubble. Those who died included Indonesians Attrul, 35, Samsul, 19, and Bahtiar, 36; Bangladeshis Mithu Hossain, 30, Mostak Hossain, 25, and Md Abdul Jalil, 34; and a Myanmar woman, Khin Aye Khaing, 33.

The search and rescue operation was called off at 5.30pm yesterday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Department and MBPP have issued a stop work order.

PHW said the local authorities must immediately investigate reports by non-governmental organisations which were monitoring hillside projects.

It said the Bukit Kukus tragedy could have been avoided if the authorities had reacted by monitoring the project site after two reports were submitted by Penang Forum earlier this year.

“MBPP must take responsibility for this landslide at Bukit Kukus as this is their project. Necessary steps must be taken so that justice can be uphold for those who lost their lives in the mishap,” it said.

PHW also urged the state government to review the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) project as it could result in numerous negative impacts.

“This is because PIL1 is a risky project which includes building a tunnel at the hill, large scale usage of explosives and other aspects.

“The issue with professional liabilities and the statutory authorities, either the state government or the developer must be identified immediately​ to avoid the repeat of the landslide incident,” it said.

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