Keratan Akhbar
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imagePanel of experts: (From left) Lawyer Derek Fernandez, SlopeWatch programme director Eriko Motoyama, Dr Gue, Dr Che Hassandi, Ahmad Redza and MPAJ slope engineering division head Zafrul Fazry Mohd Fauzy discussing and answering queries at the slope management seminar

A hazard and risk map covering slopes not previously surveyed is being compiled under a project which will be completed by 2016.

“The purpose of the project is to create a database of such slopes and identify their level of hazard and risk,” said Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry’s Local Government Department (Building Control Division) director Ahmad Redza Ghulam Rasool.

A hazard map identifies the potential for landslides while a risk map identifies the consequences of such an event including the effect on people and property.

Ahmad Redza said this during a slope management seminar entitled Overcoming Challenges and the Way Forward, organised by the ministry and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) recently.

He said the lead agency for the project is the Minerals and Geoscience Department with cooperation from other agencies and stakeholders such as the Public Works Department (JKR) and the National Safety Council.

Ahmad Redza said the project will also include cost estimates for strengthening and rehabilitation work on high-risk slopes.

“It will also include mitigation and slope risk management plans as well as land use development planning,” he said, adding RM45.97mil had been allocated for the project.

Ahmad Redza also said the ministry was looking into amending the Road, Drainage and Building 1974 (Act 133) to strengthen provisions for slope safety and maintenance.

These include appointing an accredited geotechnical expert to check the slope design as well as mandating periodical slope and building inspections.

Another proposal is to allocate funds to cover infrastructure maintenance of certain slopes that require high maintenance under the 11th Malaysia Plan (2015-2019).

Slope Safety Expert Standing Committee chairman Datuk Dr Gue See Sew also highlighted the need for technical support for local authorities, many of which lack relevant expertise.

“There should be a centralised body that all 149 local authorities can refer to for slope expertise on new hillside developments,” he said, adding that the body should also produce guidelines, standards and conduct relevant research and development.

“The Slope Engineering Department under JKR mainly covers roads and buildings that come under the Federal Government and not state lands,” he noted.

Among the recommendations that came out of the seminar include improving and simplifying current guidelines on hillside developments with an emphasis on safety and refining laws to allow local authorities sufficient power to enforce slope safety.

Others include making it compulsory for high-risk slope owners, both private and public, to appoint qualified engineers to inspect slopes on a regular basis and rectify defects.

Another suggestion was to make it mandatory for all developers to provide purchasers with the estimated cost of hillslope maintenance once they assume the management of the property.

JKR’s Slope Engineering Department director Dr Che Hassandi Abdullah said that a total of 613 people had been killed because of landslides and debris flows in Malaysia since 1973.

“The economic loss is estimated to be more than RM3bil between 1973 and 2007, and the most disastrous landslides have occurred on man-made slopes. Selangor recorded the most slope failures between 2005 and 2011, followed by Johor at 14% and 11% respectively,” he said.

He said the current public perception was that the Government is responsible for all slopes, and maintenance of existing slopes is almost always neglected.

“The public is also generally unaware of the danger and possible signs of landslides while there is no specific legislation to handle landslide disasters,” he added.

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