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Monday, December 31, 2012

The day the wall came down

Yes, I know. The title may sound a bit dramatic. But I can assure everyone that things are taken very seriously right here in Setiawangsa.

Late Friday evening, around 10 p.m., part of the retaining wall at Bukit Setiawangsa came falling down. I got a call from my uncle asking me about this as his daughter's friend tweeted about this incident. At that point in time, I was at home at Taman Setiawangsa which is further down from where the landslip took place. Upon checking Twitter and Facebook, I found that, yes indeed, the wall had come down. If this happened before the era of the social media, I am sure many would still be in the dark about the incident, and that news would not have spread that fast.

Speaking of being in the dark, I called up a friend living at Puncak Setiawangsa. Apparently the whole area of Puncak Setiawangsa went dark. He told me that the police had asked them to leave their homes and be outside the house. When I told him that there had been a landslip, he was not in the know at that point in time. Some ten minutes later, he called me back, and confirmed that there was a landslip slightly further up from where he lives.

Credit should be given where it is due. The police, fire brigade, local authority and residents all acted promptly and swiftly. No lives were loss, thankfully. But property damage is definitely huge.

As of today, the affected house at the edge of the peak is being demolished. This started earlier today and is still ongoing. Two other houses may be demolished as well. In the meantime, the experts are studying the soil movement in order to rectify the problem.

Those who had to be evacuated are still awaiting news. Those living near the affected area are definitely nervous. News (both factual and sensational) on this matter are everywhere.

In a way, it is good that people take notice of the incident. I am just hoping for several things:

  1. Hopefully, this incident will not result in finger pointing and accusations because this will lead nowehere. Find the cause of the problem and remedy it for the safety of the residents in the area.
  2. For the past two decades, there have been numerous incidents of landslips and landslides around the Hulu Klang area. Some of the incidents involved the loss of lives. Most of the times, people forget about these incidents after a few weeks. I hope that this incident will not be seasonal in nature. We should not talk about it only when it happens, and forget about it after things have quieten down. There are many high risk areas around the Klang Valley. There must be continuous efforts to ensure the safety of these areas.
  3. If there are weaknesses in the system, identify and improve them. I find it rather disturbing that the report made by the affected tenant of the house several days before the actual landslip was not acted upon promptly. Reports such as this should be looked at seriously by the authorities.

As it is now, I am hoping that the situation will improve. Everyone gets the jitters each time it rains here, as this will definitely increase the risk of the soil collapsing further. So far, things seem to stabilise and everyone is praying that it will continue to be so, until the problem is rectified (soon, hopefully).

What a way to end 2012.

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