Cleared portion of Bukit Kukus safe, says Penang mayor

A cleared portion of Bukit Kukus. A bypass road will wrap around the hill to connect Air Itam and Paya Terubong.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) today assured that a partially-cleared hill site in Paya Terubong was safe, following fears of another landslide like the one that occurred in Tanjung Bungah last month.

The council’s assurance came after a WhatsApp video showing muddy water flowing down a portion of Bukit Kukus, which is part of the larger Penang Hill range.

Residents nearby raised concerns over the flow of rainwater and mud from the area, following the heavy rain and flash floods which hit the state earlier this month.

The hill site presently houses an affordable homes project, built by a developer who took over from another company after the project was abandoned in 2003.

Directly above the project, a bypass road hugging a higher terrace of the hill is being built to connect Air Itam and Paya Terubong.

The developer will only begin work on the project once the road is completed.

The city council said both projects were first approved in 1985, with newer planning permission given in June this year.

Penang Island City Council mayor Maimunah Mohd Sharif pointing out the alignment of the paired road.

Mayor Maimunah Mohd Sharif made a spot check of the hill site this afternoon, together with several engineers.

After an hour’s examination, she said the hill site was safe, based on the review of the developer’s geotechnical engineer.

However, she added that some safeguards put in place were not according to her satisfaction, and asked for them to be improved.

The improvements included strengthening the terraced hill slopes, and the construction of new concrete drains and extra water retention ponds in addition to the two existing ones.

“This way, when there is heavy rain, the water will collect at the ponds instead of gushing down the drains below.

“We have also advised the developers to clear all the drains on the site and its perimeter regularly, better yet, hourly.

“If they do not follow our instructions, we will issue a stop-work order,” Maimunah told reporters at the construction site.

The white tarpaulin sheets are where the bypass road will be built, while the lower ground will later house affordable apartments.

She said the developers were also told to install geotextile covers on exposed cut hills and plant grass on the cut portions.

Geotextile refers to fabric made out of polypropylene or polyester that can help reinforce soil.

The development in question is one of the phases of the Majestic Heights project, which hit several snags in the late 1990s.

The project was abandoned in 1998 when its construction was 70% completed, and revived in July 2015 under a new contractor.