Wednesday August 27, 2008 MYT 9:44:07 PM

By YIP YOKE TENG, TAN KARR WEI, FAZLEENA AZIZ and PRIYA MENON

KUALA LUMPUR: Parts of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Kajang were hit by flash floods during Wednesday’s evening downpour that started around 5pm.

Jalan Travers, Pudu Raya and Jalan Bangsar were the affected areas in Kuala Lumpur. The Smart Tunnel was closed from 7pm onwards to divert floodwaters.

The floods in Kuala Lumpur hit several areas that were undergoing hillside development approved by KL City Hall (DBKL) but which were objected to by residents.

The worst hit area, Jalan Travers, is next to Federal Hill where three blocks of high-rise buildings were earlier proposed but strongly opposed by residents. The construction for police quarters is being carried out on the site.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded along the stretch temporarily as they could only wait until the floodwaters had subsided.

A police spokesman said the floods had caused massive congestion.

“There was nothing much we could do as we could not get out of the Jln Travers police station, and fire trucks could not get to the scene due to the traffic jam,” she said.

Meanwhile, a retaining wall separating Medan Damansara and a hill on which the controversial Damansara 21 development was carried out collapsed at 5.30pm.

One house at Lorong Setiapuspa 1 was badly affected. Mud flowing down from the hill covered the entire area. The occupants of the two houses nearest the hill were advised to vacate the premises.

Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan, and personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department and DBKL also visited the site.

DBKL’s Drainage and Irrigation Department director Hooi Yoke Meng said the water retention pond built behind the Caltex petrol station there had helped alleviate the flood situation at Jalan Travers.

He said the pond was a temporary mitigation measure carried out by DBKL after the area was flooded in April. Run-off from Federal Hill had been diverted into the pond instead of drains.

“Traffic resumed, albeit slowly, within a short time even though the volume of rainwater was as much as in April. Our personnel were deployed to the site to manage traffic and some helped pump rainwater into the pond,” he said. He said out that one of the long-term measures was to have another water retention pond there to trap rainwater from flowing into Jalan Travers.

Hooi also said that DBKL personnel had been clearing silt deposited into drains aggressively at various parts of Kuala Lumpur during this stretch of rainy days, but “the rain was like a moving target”.

He disagreed that construction projects being carried out on Federal Hill had contributed to the flash floods. “All development must abide by our policies under the New Urban Storm Water Management whereby developers should have structures on their sites to trap water, and thus should have zero-contribution towards flash floods. DBKL enforces and monitors this,” he added.

In Petaling Jaya, traffic at Jalan Universiti heading towards the Federal Highway was at a crawl from about 6pm onwards because of flash floods at the flyover.

At about 8.30pm, the situation worsened as traffic from all directions was concentrated at the junction of Jalan Universiti and Jalan Dato Abu Bakar.

A MBPJ Hotline officer confirmed that there were reports of flash floods at Jalan Universiti and Persiaran Surian, Kota Damansara in Petaling Jaya, but the water has subsided by about 9pm.

In Kajang, Jalan Reko was also badly hit and resident K. Amarakaran, 55, said it was the worst he had ever seen.

“Tomorrow is the first anniversary of my mother’s death and the house is filled with mud. The water started rising at 4.30pm and only subsided at 6pm,” he said.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/27/nation/20080827211607&sec=nation

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