Penang elevated road project resumes after deadly landslide

The landslide cost the lives of nine workers near Air Hitam, Penang, on Oct 19.

GEORGE TOWN: Work on the elevated road near Air Itam, which was stalled after a fatal landslide last October, can now continue after the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) gave the green light on Monday.

The council said it revoked the stop-work order on the project after the Department of Safety and Health had done the same.

In a statement, it said the project, now 73% completed, is expected to ready by mid-2020.

At the moment, mitigation works are being carried out and safety measures have been implemented.

An additional consultant has been hired to design a temporary worksite and ensure monitoring on the site.

MBPP said there will be tighter checks by the consultants and officials from the council from time to time to ensure the construction meets the required specifications.

Nine workers were killed and four injured during a landslide at a hillslope near Paya Terubong on Oct 19, when beams were being piled at the construction site.

Twelve container cabins housing the workers were buried by 42,000 tonnes of earth.

The Bukit Kukus bypass road project connects Air Itam to Relau via the Paya Terubong hills.

The incident highlighted the issue of hillside development in the state.

The cause of the landslide was believed to be an unidentified headwater source. The council had said the tragedy could have been averted if the headwater had been diverted.

The alignment of the elevated road, from Paya Terubong to Relau in the south, was mooted in the 1990s to alleviate traffic in the central portion of the island.

The project, costing RM530 million, involves constructing a 5km bypass road hugging the hills of Bukit Kukus, linking Bandar Baru Air Itam and Relau.

The project is undertaken by MBPP with two private developers. The road is mostly built by the council, while a 1.4km stretch will be built by PLB Land Sdn Bhd, and another 800m stretch by Geo Valley Sdn Bhd.

The main contractor of the project is Syarikat Yuta Maju Sdn Bhd, which began the construction on Jan 14, 2016.

Penang Hills Watch, an NGO that monitors hill development, had warned the state government twice over “serious hill cutting”, which it said was left bare for a long time and led to the landslide.