At about 3am Friday, the skies opened up above Province Wellesley. Despite being very tired after our hike up Tiger Hill, my wife and I were woken up from our sleep by the rain. It must have been very heavy because later in the day, my wife told me that Phases One and Two of the Prai Industrial Estate were flooded.
She described to me the scene at about 8.30am on Friday morning: "It was the manufacturers' worst nightmare. Most of the factories in Phase One were submerged in about 1.5 feet of water. Vehicles were parked on the higher ground and the factory workers were forced to assemble outside their factories as they were not able to work. Some of the production lines had stopped since the machines were unable to run. Substantial man-hours were lost, machineries damaged and deliveries to customers delayed. All these added to the losses by the manufacturers."
New Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr Ramasamy and other officials from the CM's Office came running early to join Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Northern Branch vice-chairman Muhammad Ismail and their Secretariat staff to survey the mess. Telephone calls were also made to the president of the Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) but I heard that he didn't turn up but sent the Director of the Engineering Department who arrived later. Much, much later.
There are two pump houses in the Prai Industrial Estate. Six big pumps and two small ones are installed at Pump House A. From what I heard, four had malfunctioned much earlier while of the remaining, only the two smaller ones were running on Friday because the two bigger ones had broken down during the night. And at Pump House B, only four of the six available pumps were working. The heavy rain, coupled with water flowing in from the Penang Bridge expansion project and the insufficient pumps, had caused the massive floods.
In this last photo, you can see the water flowing out to the sea. It's low tide which means that the flood water should subside on its own. But it's not. That means that the drainage in the whole of the Prai Industrial Estate is blocked and the place is dependable on the pumps to work.
The issue is this: floods occur frequently in the Prai Industrial Estate. You can take it to be an annual affair. Like clockwork, it never fails. But nobody looks forward to it. Every time it floods, everyone on the mainland is inconvenienced, not to mention the losses to the manufacturing sector. And every time it floods, the FMM NB will hold meetings with the MPSP to ask them resolve the problem. The MPSP always promises to do something but unfortunately, their solution is never on a long term. Although pumps have been installed, there is very little maintenance of the equipment. Or otherwise, why should the pumps always be breaking down? Repairs also take a long time. Sometimes, I wonder whether the MPSP is serious enough to manage Province Wellesley properly.
Such an attitude must change and I am looking forward to the new Penang state government to initiate the change as soon as possible. Please get rid of the redundant and incompetenet staff.
UPDATE 1 (2,30pm): I've just learnt that blogger Jeff Ooi, who is now the Penang Chief Minister's Chief Of Staff, has made his observations very clear here.
UPDATE 2 (7.30pm): Apparently, I've heard that Guan Eng is livid over the floods and will be calling for a meeting next week with the FMM NB and the MPSP. It's good to see that the state government wants to get to the bottom of this nonsense as quickly as possible.