11 December 2008

Who is responsible for the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy?

Now the blaming game has started. Of course somebody has to take the blame. Will it be the former Selangor MBs Khir Toyo and Muhammad Taib, or the present MB Khalid Ibrahim or is it MPAJ?

Slope does not become unstable in the wink of an eye. When there is rainfall, water will find its way into the nearest water courses such as drains or streams and ultimately make its way into rivers and into the sea. Some will sip and percolate into the earth strata. When there is heavy downpour or intense rainfall, drains or streams may be choked up and this will eventually cause the water to swell and overflow. When this happens to hill slopes, the gushing water or runoffs will just overflow over the slopes and erode whatever it comes across . Simply said, over years, there is an increasing pore water pressure building up in the soil, which then caused an overburden in the soil slopes. A point may reach when the slope's soil becomes 'too heavy' and unstable and it no longer can hold its strength anymore, hence,  a slope failure occurs.

Why did the British, our colonial masters build the Klang gate dam in that area?. The simple reason is that it is a big natural catchment area receiving the highest rainfall in the Klang valley. Whoever lives there will tell you it rains cats and dogs when other places gets a drizzle.

As a practising Civil Engineer with 30 years handling slope stability problems, experience shows that almost any modification of a slope by people increases the risk of slope movement, especially in areas receiving high intensity rain. How unstable a slope depends on many environmental factors, so mitigation of slope failures can be complicated. Generally, vegetation can improve the stability of a slope because plant roots increase cohesion and plant leaves intercept rain drops that could otherwise decrease cohesion. Reducing rainfall runoff at the top of a slope and reinforcing the base of a slope can also improve stability. However, the mitigation of slope failures often needs to be prescribed on a case by case basis because every slope is unique.

In areas where slope failures are a hazard, the best solution is not to place any structures on or near a slope that has been determined to be unstable. In the Bukit Antarabangsa case, the slope failure occurs in area where there is vegetation, and no one notice that slope failure is imminent. That shows the slope has been weakening over time due to the failure of interceptor drains (if there are any) or frequent runoff or gushing heavy flows of water due to the clearing of areas on top of the slope due to the developments.

When the Highland Tower collapsed 15 years ago, it was a warning to the authorities to stop all hillside developments in that area. It fell on deaf ears. Muhammad Taib and Khir Toyo should be responsible for this tragedy. They were at the helm of the Selangor state in the last 15 years and development in that areas should have been banned after the Highland Tower tragedy.

Bukit Antarabangsa was once dub the Beverly Hills of the Klang Valley, and now it has become the Tragedy Hill.

I wonder if any of the UMNO delegates would be stupid enough to vote for Muhammad Taib and Khir Toyo in the coming UMNO elections. Would they reject a leader with bloods on their hands?

Nay. In UMNO, money talks and bullshit walks................

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