BY Roznah Abdul Jabbar
It is ironic that we are now worrying about too much rain when just a few weeks ago, we were complaining about too much sun. However, after the flash flood in Kuala Lumpur last week, heavy rain is beginning to weigh on our minds.
The floods, which occurred in areas such as Bangsar, Jalan Semantan and Jalan Pudu, created a traffic standstill in key areas in the city.
Business owners in the affected areas said the flood was the worst in 30 years. Shops and cars were submerged in murky water after the torrential pour.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the floods occurred because the drainage system was incapable of accommodating the intensity of the rainfall, at more than 80mm per hour.
He said that as a short-term measure, the drainage waterways would have to be deepened, and maintenance of the system would have to be carried out more regularly.
“As a long-term measure, the drainage system for the Jalan Duta, Universiti Malaya and Bangsar areas will have to be upgraded by the relevant authorities,” he said.
Wan Junaidi said he did not rule out the possibility that flash floods in Jalan Duta were caused by the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in the area.
However, MMC Gamuda KVMRT (PDP) Sdn Bhd, the Project Delivery Partner of the MRT project, said that investigations conducted revealed that the flash flood near Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim was not caused by the MRT construction of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line.
Malaysians in general, and owners of the affected properties in particular, are perplexed as to why we are still looking for solutions for flash floods despite having faced the problem for decades.
KL’s mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz said that while it is possible to install water pumps in flood hot spots to divert rising water, the underlying problem will not be solved.
“We need a solution which ensures every part of the city is ready to receive continuous rainfall with the intensity of more than 80mm per hour,” he said.
He was reported as saying that KL City Hall has proposed a plan to overcome recurring floods in the city, which will be focusing on two areas.
“In general, the works will include drainage, retention pond and changing the underground culvert,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that the rainfall last week was “exceptionally heavy”, and that the city’s drainage system was unable to cope.
He said that the flood along Jalan Duta was caused by tunnel construction work and an incomplete 50m-long pipe laying project.
“In Pantai Dalam, the drains were unable to hold the water that gushed down from the hills,” he said.
He said there were 26 pumps at several locations in the city but they were not enough.
“We are terribly sorry over the incident. We have identified the causes and want to rectify this (problem) as soon as possible,” he said.
The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM) said that new developments should be restricted from discharging rainwater into the city’s overwhelmed drainage system.
IEM suggested the restriction after concluding that rapid development was among the possible factors for the flash flood that struck the city last week.
IEM president Tan Yean Chin said it is possible to cut additional water runoff after development by providing adequate retention ponds for rainwater at the source in development areas.
Tan said that new developments should adopt best management practices such as the provision of adequate drainage system designed at appropriate protection level and control of water at source principles.
“IEM would like to recommend that for new developments in the Klang Valley, the zero-additional discharge principle should be imposed to developers as one of the development approval conditions which means to say that new developments approved must not contribute to additional surface water runoff after development,” he said in a statement.
Tan said that apart from adopting a “professional approach” by using official hydrological data in designing temporary drainage system, it is important to have public awareness on dumping of rubbish in drainage systems as well as the need to uplift the maintenance culture of local governments for better drainage systems.
“IEM would like to stress that in carrying out flood mitigation measures, there is a need to consider both structural and non-structural measures that must be implemented under short and long term development programmes,” he added.
He said that the non-structural measure lies in the control of land development and all relevant authorities must be serious in tackling the root causes that lead to major siltation of drainage system, rivers and waterways.