Official Keynote Address by : Yang Berhormat Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin , Deputy Minister ,Ministry of Housing and Local Government at National Conference on Landslide Risk Mitigation & Hillislope Re-Engineering Planning 19 March 2009 PWTC Kuala Lumpur

19 March 2009, Comments 0

Yang Berhormat Dato\’ Hamzah Zainuddin

Deputy Minister II

Ministry of Housing and Local Government

Conference on Landslide Risk Mitigation and HILLSLOPE Re-Engineering Planning

Venue : Putra World Centre

Date : 19 March 2009

Time : 8.50 a.m


Assalammualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabaratuh

Professor Dr. Mahbob Salim

Executive Director , Institute Sultan Iskandar

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Amin Alias

Head of Business Technology & Innovation Division, Institute Sultan Iskandar

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Yang Berbahagia Datuk Ng Seing Liong, PJN, JP

President, Real Estate and Housing Developers\\\’ Association Malaysia

Y.Bhg. Dato\’ Sri Prof. Ir. Dr. Judin Bin Abdul Karim

Director General, Public Works Department, Malaysia

Assalamualaikum w.b.t,

and a very good morning to everyone

Ladies and Gentleman

1. Landslides have caused large numbers of casualties and huge economic losses in the hilly and mountainous areas of the world. In tropical countries, annual rainfall could peak as high as 4500 milimetre with high temperatures all-through-out the year. Collectively, these conditions stimulate intense weathering to the soil and rock profile. At certain ground location, these effects could extend 100 m in depth.

2. With these set of climate and geological conditions, combined with other causative factors, landslide is one of the most destructive natural disasters in the tropical region. From 1993 to 2008, there were 16 major landslides reported in Malaysia, involving both cut and natural slopes with a total lost of more than 100 lives. Of these the landslides within the Ampang/Hulu Kelang areas received the most publicity. Being located in highly populated areas, the impacts of these tragedies are tremendous to human and properties.

3. Social and economic losses due to landslides can be reduced by means of effective engineering, planning and management which involved landslide hazard assessment, slope assessment for landslide prediction, mitigation measures and warning systems. The recurrences of these incidences imply that actions being undertaken by the respective authorities were less effective. Studies conducted after the tragedies have indicated that landslides were caused mainly by failures of the retaining walls and other combination of factors like lack of maintenance and monitoring, less coordination during construction stage and design problems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

4. It is pointless for the purpose of planning landslide mitigation measures to classify the work as a function of the phenomena or of more important phenomena, renouncing any attempt to prescribe all the causes, all the conditions which, at different times, contribute to the occurrence of landslides. Therefore, the methods of slope stabilization in rocks or in earth must be further examined.

5. In Malaysia, there are several government agencies with different disciplines involved that can provide inputs to reduce landslide hazard and their consequences, namely the Department of Mineral and Geosciences (DMG), Center of Remote Sensing (MACRES), Public Works Department (PWD) and the Department of Town and Country Planning which had provided certain guidelines to the planning and development on slopes.

6. Today, there are issues pertaining to the reliability or accuracy of the existing Slope Assessment in predicting the landslide occurrences in our country. Accuracy or reliability in predicting future landslide is a crucial part of any slope assessment. Inaccurate or wrong prediction will expose lives and economies to danger or hazard if a slope or an area that should be classified as a High Hazard Level is mispredicted as Low Hazard Level. On the other hand, if a slope or an area that should be regarded as a Low Hazard Level is mispredicted as High Hazard Level, it will be exposed to losses in terms of funds spent to \\\’stabilize\\\’ the stable slope, or funds spent on any effort to reduce the risks of landslides that are unlikely to occur.

Ladies and Gentleman

7. The questions arise; will the new hillside development guideline be effective?, does Malaysia need to wait or learn from incidences after they have happened?, or to adapt guidelines to suit the local situation. In general, the following issues need to be deliberated. For instance:-

· Government\\\’s Enforcement on Regulation and Legislation. Based on the various landslide incidents, it is crucial for the respective authorities to implement periodic monitoring and immediate corrective action taken to prevent future incidents. The various landslide incidents should be taken as a serious wake up call and would require a positive and immediate response. A recent guideline issued by the Federal, Town and Country Planning Department which says that all development of slopes exceeding 25 degrees should be strictly prohibited. But these strictures are largely ignored because there aren\\\’t laws but mere guidelines.

· The Developer\\\’s Responsibility. The housing developer in this country has an important role and responsibility to ensure that developments are not only sustainable but in compliance with planning/engineering guidelines and operating procedures.

The major concern to the public is on developer\\\’s continuous property development in environmentally sensitive areas.

· The Issues of Safety Screening and Monitoring. Slope management and inventory should be established to monitor the risk of each slope in the area. This is to ensure a stringent and continuous slope monitoring by the respective authorities.

· New Compliance and Regulatory Requirements. The technical authority need to inspect the slopes and decide if it is dangerous. Once identified action should be taken immediately to rectify the situation.

· Public Education. The public especially owners of land in hillslope should be aware of the hazards posed by development on such areas. Effective remedial and corrective measures must be put in place before any attempts were made to develop the site. Local authorities on the other hand must be equipped with up to date data on land condition/suitability, ground movement and so on, and be transparent so as to educate the public on the safety aspects, and take precautionary measures to improve the hill-slope development which if unchecked can endanger their own lives.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Preventive measures for hillside development should not be limited to housing/residential development but also to road and highway development and other infrastructure works. These developments should also apply detailed and stringent soil investigation methods to meet the requirement of the authorities. The incidents at Bukit Antarabangsa and two other earlier incidents in the Klang Valley should be taken as signs that landslides near hill slope development do present a clear hazardous and dangerous signs that should be seriously and effectively addressed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our government has a huge responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens because landslides are a threat to the society. A leading agency or department must be created to ensure that safety from landslides is maintained. To achieve this objective a comprehensive Slope Safety System has to be formulated, operated and managed by a team comprising specialist engineers and scientists to execute the task and to achieve effective reduction in risks caused by landslides.

The principal initiatives are:

· Slope Safety Standards to ensure more effective slope protection and stabilization measures. Here, geotechnical research and the study of natural terrain instability are fundamental in risk assessment and hazard mapping.

· The crucial need to continue examining the design and supervision of construction of new slopes. By doing so, the high standards of slope protection and stabilization methods are maintained.

· Good landuse planning is necessary to avoid landslide prone areas. Further, the possible man-made alternatives to the landscape, such as road cuttings and construction of heavy buildings should be minimized.

· Rectifying or upgrading high priority substandard slopes and the safety screening of old slopes and scheduled maintenance of man-made slopes are desirable good practices.

· As good citizenry, owner must also take responsibility for slope safety. This \\\’command and control\\\’ method sets regulations on slope for public safety. Safety screening of private land slopes may be enforced to owners to investigate and carry out necessary upgrading works to slopes. Here, the enabling legislation need to be first, put in place.

· One of the important government interventions regarding slope safety is promoting public education, public information services and community advisory services. With these information and awareness, the dangers of landslides can be minimized effectively.

· The aesthetics of engineered slopes is also important, the objective is to make the slopes look as natural as possible and to blend them with the surroundings. There is a crucial need for planning and technical guidelines on good practices in landscape treatments and bioengineering for slope works. The greening of newly formed slopes is necessary for both functional and aesthetics and minimizing the use of hard surfacing in slope works.

I understand that a policy and institutional framework for landslide Mitigation and Risk Reduction has been initiated. Efforts toward instititutionalizing and legislating systems for Landslide Mitigation and Risk Management are time consuming process. We hope the current initiatives will go towards the transformation of the National Slope Master Plan that will be the blueprint in guiding the long term solution for Landslide Mitigation and Risk Reduction Management.

With this note, I have the pleasure to declare open the one-day conference on

Landslide Risk Mitigation and Hillslope Re-Engineering.

Thank you.

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