Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Floods in Bukit Mertajam

Gosh, it really rained throughout the night until early this morning! Welcome, folks, to the annual Nine Emperor Gods festival. It never ceases to amaze me how, despite the dates for the lunar calendar being dynamic and shifting year-to-year, the nine days of this festival is almost invariably always very wet. Right on cue, the rains will come and drench everything in their way.

This year, the rain started from about nine o'clock yesterday evening but it was only a light drizzle to begin with. However, it turned very heavy from about two or three o'clock in the wee hours of the morning. I should know very well, because the sound of the rain kept me semi-awake all the while. It eased off at about seven o'clock this morning.

I told my wife that traffic on the roads could be congested today and true enough, when I dropped her off at her office in Seberang Jaya, the road through Permatang Rawa was chockful with cars. People going to work, see? Therefore, I decided to make a detour through Kubang Semang and thence to the Kulim-Butterworth highway. Had to paid RM1.30 as toll but I got her to her office on time.

Earlier this morning too, she was informed by one of her staff that houses in Sungai Rambai were flooded. I had thought that the flood mitigation project in this previously flood-prone area had already eliminated this problem - and indeed, several days ago, I had even told a friend who once stayed here that floods were a thing of the past - but I guess that this early morning's deluge was exceptional.

The floods are back with a vengeance and our representatives in the State Assembly and Parliament should waste no time to pressure the state and federal governments to do more to implement additional flood mitigation projects here in Bukit Mertajam.

I understand that since last year, the Penang government had approved more than RM20 million for flood mitigation projects in Alma, Taman Sungai Rambai, Taman Makok and B Garden. The Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam, Steven Sim, says that another RM15-30 million will be needed to have a high-capacity pump house in Autocity to facilitate quicker water flow from the Sungai Rambai into the sea. He said that this was a large amount of money for the state government but the reps were campaigning for its implementation.

And what's the federal government going to do? Sim said that in the last Parliament sitting, he asked why flood mitigation projects promised by the federal government under the Ninth Malaysia Plan had not been implemented, and he was told that it would be considered for the fourth Rolling Plan in the 10th Malaysia Plan next year. It smacks of irresponsibility that projects in Penang promised under the Ninth Malaysia Plan may only be considered under the 10th Malaysia Plan. Like that, and they want our votes!

On the way back from Seberang Jaya, my path took me through Jalan Song Ban Kheng. The road was on higher ground and thus, was clear of flood water but I noticed that cars had been parked on the bridge across the Sungai Rambai. I stopped to look at the swollen river. I think the water level had subsided quite a lot already but it was still massively wide and dangerous.

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