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In the town of George, almost two decades after it was first proposed, a flood prevention project in Penang Island is finally getting under way. Only two of the three stages of the Sungai Pinang flood prevention project have been completed to far.

The federal agency of irrigation and drainage undertook the biggest flood mitigation project in the nation, including a 51-square-kilometer river basin and its six tributaries (DID). An early estimate put the price tag at RM650 million, but it has now been reduced.

After government finances for the project were delayed for more than two decades, the final phase never got off the ground.

The third phase of the project, for which RM150 million was ultimately authorized last year, would get started in June and be finished by 2026 at the latest.

There is no guarantee that the project will prevent flooding in most areas.

Nonetheless, the senior assistant director (management) of the state DID, claims that the project would have little effect on lowering flood risks.

A seven-square-kilometer section of the river basin's 51-square-kilometer basin would see a reduction in flood danger thanks to the most recent phase, according to her.

"I'm afraid I can't declare that the RM150 million we're investing would prevent floods, but I can say that flood risks will be reduced.

A news conference with state executive councillor, she added, "But if there are additional money, we can cover the whole 51 square kilometer river basin."

According to Hafizah, Penang might benefit from more cash to develop more water retention ponds in Air Itam's upstream parts of the river.

Prior to this, Jagdeep had made an announcement on the project's third phase of flood mitigation. From Jalan Patani to Jalan Air Itam, Sungai Pinang will be extended and deepened, and jogging and cycling routes will be installed along its banks.

The Jalan Patani, Jalan Perak, and Jalan Air Itam bridges will all be demolished and rebuilt.

It will also renovate three minor bridges in Kampung Rawa, Lorong Kulit, and Jalan Langkawi for pedestrian-motorcycle usage.

A long-term strategy to reduce flood damage

People on the island of Borneo have a 3.2-mile river called Sungai Pinang. It has a lot of smaller rivers, like Sungai Jelutong, Sungai Air Terjun, Sungai Kecil, and Sungai Air Itam, which all flow into it.

Efforts to reduce the frequency of flash floods were launched in 1998. The first phase of the project, which started in 1998, cost RM6.45 million to expand and deepen the river from the estuary to the Jalan Patani bridge.

Between the Jalan Patani bridge and Dhoby Ghaut near Dato Keramat, the second phase of the project was completed in 1999.

The remaining section of the river was the focus of this phase. Water quality will be improved and the river will be broadened and deepened as part of the plan.

The municipal government had to evacuate squatters from the riverside, which caused the delay. Since then, some 120 of them have been relocated.

In spite of repeated pledges, the federal government has failed to provide finances for the last phase of the project since 2016. Putrajaya pays for major flood control initiatives that are under federal authority.

Sungai Pinang RTB would only cost RM150 million.

The 12th Malaysian Plan, released last year, included RM259.9 million in funding for flood prevention measures in Penang. The Sungai Pinang project is included in the RM150 million budget.

There are at least ten tributaries that flow into the Sungai Pinang from the Penang Hills, which is why the river is frequently responsible for flash floods in portions of the island.

When it rains heavily, Sungai Pinang and its tributaries fill to hazardous levels, posing a threat to those who live along their banks.

Floodwaters up to a meter high are common in the Caunter Hall region, which includes Jalan P Ramlee and Jalan Perak. Most tributaries flooded or reached unsafe levels during the historic Penang floods of September 2017.


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