GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government will make a RM400 one-off payment to each of the families who suffered building and vehicle damage in the recent flash floods, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced today.
He said people seeking the payment were required to fill a form available from their local assemblyman’s office from Sept 25. The forms must be returned within a month.
“The payout will be managed by state assemblymen and local city and municipal councillors, and be overseen by state welfare committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.
“This is strictly a one-off payment because of the extraordinary rainfall last week which saw a month’s rain falling in a single day.
“The effects of Typhoon Doksuri was not only felt in Penang. The flash floods were worse in neighbouring states, but of course the mainstream media have chosen to focus on Penang alone,” Lim told a press conference today.
Flash floods struck Penang during the early morning downpour on Sept 15. Some 200 families were evacuated to 11 welfare department shelters. All returned to their homes after three to four days.
Lim also said the state executive council today approved an emergency funding of RM2.5 million to clear and rebuild drainage channels.
Another RM2 million was approved for the landslide affected areas at Setia Green, Sungai Ara; Green Lane Park Condominium, Solok Tembaga; and the Kayangan Putri Mutiara (KPM), Medan Fettes in Tanjung Tokong.
Lim also said flood mitigation projects costing RM405 million announced by the state government in the last state budget would be speeded up.
Hurry up with RM1.1 billion in flood mitigation funding
Lim said the Penang government has done its part to speed up flood mitigation works, but a stalled federal government flood mitigation plan (FMP) might stand in its way.
He said the Sungai Pinang FMP had been stalled for a very long time and flash floods might occur another time if the project did not begin soon.
“It has to be stressed that with heavy downpours such as the one recently, any FMP undertaken by the state government might not be able to cope if flash floods hit again unless the Sungai Pinang FMP begins right away.
“So we urge the federal government to complete the RM1.4 billion project.
“We have only received RM300 million for the FMP, and yet to get another RM1.1 billion. We wonder where it has gone?” he asked.
Federal government flood mitigation project stalled for nearly 20 years
The Sungai Pinang River Basin FMP is a vital project to curtail flooding in low-lying areas near the banks of Penang island’s longest river, Sungai Pinang.
The three-phase FMP was initiated by the federal government in 1998 to address frequent flooding.
The first phase began with the widening and deepening of the river from the estuary to the Jalan Patani bridge, at a cost of RM6.45 million.
The second phase was carried out between the Patani Road bridge and Dobby Ghaut in 1999.
The final and third phase was to focus on the upstream portion of the river. It has a two-prong objective — to improve the water quality and to widen and deepen the river.
This particular phase was delayed as the city council had to remove squatters along the river banks to allow the project to proceed.
The squatters were finally evicted two years ago.
In last November’s sitting of the state assembly, it was revealed that most of the FMPs approved in Penang were in constituencies represented by Barisan Nasional (BN).
The federal government projects worth RM665 million had been implemented in BN-held areas since 2008, state flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow told the assembly.
Chow said these were for:
# Sungai Muda FMP (RM1.3 billion, RM90 million spent on Penang side of the river, begun in 2008);
# Bertam-Kepala Batas FMP (RM152 million, begun in 2011);
# Tasek Gelugor FMP (RM41 million, begun in 2013, completion next month);
# Sungai Prai FMP, begun in 2008 (RM330.5 million);
# North Seberang Prai River Conservation Project (RM1.87 million);
# Sungai Kerian FMP (RM49 million, completion by March 2017).
Chow said, in contrast, the Penang government had spent RM1.38 million in development funds at Sungai Acheh on the mainland, a BN-held area.
In a written reply to Lim in the Dewan Rakyat last November, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the North and South Seberang Prai districts had received separate funding for FMP.
These projects are being carried out near Nibong Tebal and Tasek Gelugor.
One of the projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan was being undertaken at the Sungai Kerian river basin, near Nibong Tebal. About 90% of the RM46 million project has been completed.
The FMP at Tasek Gelugor, Butterworth, costs RM8.6 million. A pump station is being built at Sungai Pengkalan Machang there.