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Report on Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy hogs public interest
31/12/2009 The Star Online Central

THE tragedy happened on Dec 6, 2008, but the issues that cropped up with the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide lingered on throughout 2009, gaining more nationwide attention with the passage of time.

Slope-strengthening, safety issues, compensation for the victims and the cause of the landslide were some of the concerns and highlights in the aftermath of the incident.

Two months after the landslide that killed five people and destroyed 14 bungalows, major slope-strengthening work costing RM70mil was carried out at the location by the Works Ministry.

The work that began in March 2009 is still in progress, but residents in the area are looking into identifying other slopes in the vicinity that may also need strengthening, to be on the safe side.

As the work continued from month to month, public interest on the Public Works Department’s (JKR) full report on the tragedy grew.

Remedial work: The affected slope, where the landslide took place on Dec 6 last year, is being strengthened at a cost of RM70mil.
The report, which the JKR had promised would be ready three months from the time of the landslide, was taking longer to be completed.

There was speculation on the cause of the landslides as queries were raised as to why the report took so long to be completed.

Finally, when it was ready in October, a gag order was slapped on it by the federal government under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.

The government’s act to keep the document confidential further fuelled the growing public interest, prompting Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to declassify the report.

At this point, there was also much pressure on the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) to release the document, which was entrusted to it by the JKR.

After some argument and critiques unfavourable to the federal government’s decision, the report was declassified on Dec 5 — one day before the first anniversary of the tragedy — to be made available to the public.

Two days later, copies of the report were sold at the MPAJ to residents and the public at RM80 per copy.

The report noted that leaking water pipelines near some abandoned houses along Jalan Wangsa 11, not far from the landslide area, contributed to a build-up of high-pore water pressure in the slope.

It ruled out earthquake as a cause of the landslide that destroyed the 14 bungalows in Hulu Klang, as seismic records showed there was no sign of earthquake motion that day or a month before.

Currently, the main concern of the residents and residents’ associations in Bukit Antarabangsa is to be on the lookout for any signs of future landslides.

They are also looking into finding ways to obtain compensation for the victims who incurred losses in the tragedy.

Coalition of Bukit Antarabangsa Residents Association (CoBARA) chairman Shahrul Teh said the association was studying the report to help affected residents find the right channel for proper compensation for their losses.

He added that the association also worked with the JKR and the MPAJ in training more people to be watchful of slopes by looking out for signs of landslides.

“It is a continuous project and we have sent nine reports to the MPAJ so far. We are also looking into how the authorities can carry out maintenance work on other slopes in the area.

“Ultimately we are looking for a safer Bukit Antarabangsa. Currently, the public’s image of Bukit Antara-bangsa is that it is a disastrous area, but we are working to rectify that perception,” he said.

He added that the team would also be helping the owners of the 14 damaged bungalows to seek some compensation after studying the report.


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