GEORGE TOWN, May 4 – Tanjong Bungah residents are up in arms over the proposed mixed development behind Miami Green which will be carried out on a Class Four Hill; an environmentally sensitive area.
Despite their disapproval of the project, the DAP-ruled state government has down played the signs of a “ticking time-bomb”, citing that the project has passed all strict technical guidelines before it was approved.
This is not the first time Tanjong Bunga has been under the spotlight for hill slope development, especially after the landslide which claimed 11 lives last year, and other projects that has been disapproved by former assemblyman, Teh Yee Cheu.
At a press conference last week, Miami Green residents protested against the mixed development coming up right behind their home, where former DAP Bukit Bendera parliamentarian Zairil Khir Johari found himself on a slippery slope after being schooled by the residents and non-government organisations.
Environmental and Geotechnical expert, Aziz Noor cautioned that the hill, with some of its 45-degree gradient slopes or more, could be unstable once disturbed, stressing that a minor miscalculation during the construction phase could cause a massive incident, like the Highland Towers tragedy.
“The construction of this development is extremely complex and dangerous as it is done on a hilly terrain and close to the edge of a steeply cut slope. Such a slope as close as one metre from the Miami Green building, is not designed for additional loading and it has shown signs of distress.
“Any additional stress as a result of the development could lead to failure of the slope with disastrous consequence. The lives of Miami Green residents could be at risk,” he told Bernama.
Despite the acknowledgement of the state government that the projects have passed all the strict technical guidelines, Aziz questioned the ability of the developers to follow the guidelines set, and the capability of the authorities to ensure that every single guideline and specification is followed.
“Everything looks good on paper, but how sure are the authorities that the developer will follow every single suggestion made by the engineers? The Penang Island City Council does not have sufficient slope experts to oversee every single step of the process,” he noted.
Aziz, who is familiar with the Highland Towers incident investigations, explained that slope failures could be abrupt or they could manifest over time such as the case for the Highland Towers. The situation with Miami Green was very similar, he said.
“Include soil erosion, surface run-offs and many other factors, I believe this is a disaster waiting to happen, and if it does, the worst-case scenario would be the collapse of one or more building blocks. People’s lives are at stake; we need to do the right thing,” he added.
The Penang Government has approved development on the 12.26 acres which, will comprise two 34-storey serviced apartment building blocks with 336 units each and a 20-storey affordable apartment block with 197 units. However, work has yet to commence.
State Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Teng Chang Yeow, who is also the BN Tanjong Bunga candidate in the 14th General Election, said the project should have been shelved from the beginning. According to the BN manifesto, it will proclaim highland and hill slope areas of 250 feet above sea-level as permanent forest reserves. — Bernama