PWD: Illegal earthworks by resort caused Batu Ferringhi landslide

PWD: Illegal earthworks by resort caused Batu Ferringhi landslide

GEORGE TOWN: The landslide in Batu Ferringhi last night that killed four people was caused by unauthorised earthworks at the bottom of the slope, said Public Works Department (PWD) today.

Penang PWD director Shahabuddin M Muhayidin said his team came up with the conclusion after having preliminary inspections at the site.

“PWD will undertake immediate repair works to prevent further erosion on the slope,” he said, at a press conference today.

Also present at the press conference were Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow and Penang Island City Council mayor Yew Tung Seang.

Last night, a slope separating Lost Paradise Resort and Jalan Batu Ferringhi gave way while several Myanmar nationals were building a retaining wall there.

Four workers got buried alive when the landslide occurred.

Shahabuddin said PWD will use sheet piles to strengthen the slope for the time being.

It will also close one of the two lanes of the road to allow repair works to be undertaken. The work is expected to be completed between three to four weeks.

For now, Shahabuddin urged motorists to take alternative routes to Batu Ferringhi. The other option is to use a road via Balik Pulau but it is a narrow and winding road.

On related matter, Yew said that the Lost Paradise City management did not make any formal application to carry out slope-strengthening works.

He also said that the landowner is liable under Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 for not get permission from the city council before starting earthworks in their property.

If convicted, the land owner can be jailed for five eyes, slapped with a fine of RM50,000, or both.

“We hope the public can become our eyes and ears and report to us if there is any illegal work being carried out. We will not hesitate to take action,” Yew said.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow urged the city council, police, PWD and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health to complete its probe on the matter soon and throw the book on those responsible for the deaths.

He also conveyed condolences to the families of the Myanmar workers who perished in the tragedy.

“It appears the work was carried out without any engineering expertise. The landowner had taken it upon himself to improve what was deemed faulty.

“But the way it was done has caused movement of earth, despite being no rain,” he said.