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Yesterday’s blog (13th Oct) attracted a spike of visits to the site. I wondered why. Is it the cute acronym of “FoS”.  So, I shall continue the winning streak and retain the magic word. After all, DBKL and FT Ministry officials clearly feel that it’s a good mantra for steep hill slope development safety.

DBKL, in championing FoS and GP WPKL, has now ruled that Damansara 21 shall now be Damansara 16. Did the 16 agencies supporting DBKL made an error of 31% in earlier approval?  Suppose we apply the same margin of error (say before homes get destroyed), the FoS should be increased by 31%.  Now, this would mean a FoS of 1.965.

Wah lah, what do you know? If you read the Wikipedia definition of FoS in my earlier blog, the common FoS for each structural member in a building is 2.0.  Amazingly close to the FoS 1.965 figure above?

Did you know that a buffer zone of 4.5 metres is shorter than the length of a Proton Perdana?

Fascinated by FoS touted by DBKL and FT & Urban Well-Being Ministry, I called a geotechnical engineer contact for his views.  Neh, now is not the time to talk about that.  However, it occurred to me that a variation of the acronym for FoS, i.e. “Factor of Stupidity”, could equally apply. Consider the below:

  • DBKL slope engineering unit has an engineer, two geologist and technical assistants for slope (figure given Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib – Secretary-General of FT & Urban Well-Being Ministry)
  • There are 24,221ha of hill slope areas in KL to be monitored by team of 3?
  • National Slope Master Plan says information it has is insufficient for landslide hazard analysis, such as failure dimension and causes of failure.
  • Only 13 geotechnical experts registered as accredited engineers by Board of Engineers Malaysia
  • Many of our hill slope landslides are due to poor construction and supervision, but we have heard nothing about tightening up on monitoring of contractors, developers and mandatory supervision of constructions.

Well, I guess I still have some way to go to understand the legendary wisdom of our leaders. 😉

Gary Yeoh – JAC for Bukit Gasing.

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It was reported in the Malay Mail and The Sun that the Medan Damansara (Damansara 21) development has been approved and that the GP WPKL 2010 (DBKL’s special recipe for safe hill slope development) will ensure approved developments will be safe.

Here are some of the special benefits of the GP WPKL 2010:

  • It will now be Damansara 16 not 21 [phew, someone remembered not to select no 14]
  • FoS of slopes when completed will be between 1.4 to 2.9 [oops, somebody used no 14]
  • New “U-Drain” to be included [oh yes, “U-turn” on concern for Medan Damansara safety]
  • Buffer of 4.5 meters [so landslide debris better not be too much and hope there are no swimming pools]

Of late, DBKL and Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Ministry Secretary General Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib have been loudly proclaiming that the FoS (Factor of Safety) of not less than 1.5 stipulated in the GP WPKL 2010 will ensure safe hill developments.  So, how true is this?

Visit this site for a definition of Factor of Safety and you will find that FoS are only as good as the prediction of assumed load and the environmental conditions that walls and structures built for hill slope developments are supposed to withstand.  The use of a Factor of Safety does not imply that an item, structure, or design is “safe”.

The National Slope Master Plan (published in Sept 2009) acknowledged that available information is insufficient for landslide hazard analysis, such as failure dimension and causes of failure. It also highlighted the lack of resources and skills in government agencies. So, is GP WPKL 2010 a recipe for safe hill slope development or a disaster for residents?

Read the reports below and ponder if KL will ever become a world class city. Let’s forget about the tropical garden city bit as it is quite clear that DBKL have no desire for greenery.

Cabinet okays Damansara 21 project/Stop at 16 (The Sun)

Damansara 21 project still can’t resume yet (The Malay Mail)

Do read the following for my views on DBKL’s GP WPKL 2010:

Geotechnical Checker – A fair deal from DBKL ? Part I

Geotechnical Checker – A fair deal from DBKL ? Part II

Gary Yeoh – JAC for Bukit Gasing.

This is the second MSM article purporting that there may not be development on Bukit Gasing. The first was in The Star – Central Metro on 14th July under “Mayor Speaks?. The mayor said DBKL will not agree to development on 4 hill,Bukit Tabur, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Nenas and Bukit Sungai Besi. Then he goes on to talk about how responsible and diligent DBKL will be. One wonders how Medan Damansara residents feels about the many agencies that permitted the denuding of trees at the very steep hill slopes that Damansara 21 development give such careful DBKL planning and approval controls. Two houses sufferred landslide damages and only be the grace of god, no fatalities occurred.

At the sametime as the “Mayor Speaks” article a notice board was up in the DBKL community centre in Pantail Dalam/Bukit Gasing area announcing two 26 stories condo that wasn’t even in the draft KL City Plan that we had objected to.

Now, the Mayor talks about having submitted 52.6ha of Bukit Gasing to be gazetted and needing approval from the Land Office. Hello? He doesn’t know if he has the power?  NST quotes that Bukit Gasing on KL side comprises 115.6 ha. So, KL is only going to gazzette about 45.5% of the green lung that could have been preserved!

Yet more strange, DBKL continues to be silent on whether they will withdraw the DO given to Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd. The hill that Gasing Meridion will destroy is what most people will see and identify as Bukit Gasing on KL side.

We have to be vigilant and not fall prey to deliberate attempts to confuse and hide DBKL’s lack fo care for preservation of our limited green lungs, sustainable development and safety to residents.

Access “Mayor Speaks” here…

Gary Yeoh

Almost two years ago, a number of residents affected by the proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd (GMSB) were at a meeting with the Director of Planning for DBKL. We were informed that DBKL had approved the sub-division of land owned by GMSB in October 2007. We were informed that it was only an administrative approval and not a development order. There was no need to be concerned. The impression given to us was that he welcomed our input at the meeting and would take note of the petitions already submitted to DBKL. He assured us that DBKL would be diligent and apply stringent conditions on the development, including having further dialogue with us.

On 11th Feb 2008, 108 residents filed for a Judicial Review by the High Court on DBKL’s rejection of their request for a public hearing. They were concerned about the possibility that not doing so will result in DBKL having a “free hand” in endangering their lives and property.

The facts as they now stand are:

  • The “administrative” approval for sub-division of land is part of a development order
  • 3 days after that meeting, on the 17th November 2007, a further development order for erection of hoarding was given
  • The welcoming of input and suggestions for further dialogue replaced by hand delivered notice to residents on the 31st December 2007, rejecting our request for public hearing
  • Assurance of stringent conditions transformed to issuance of a further development order for earthworks on 31st January 2008, under “Sekysen 70 Akta Jalan, Parit dan Bangunan 1974( AKTA 33) dan Undang Undang Kecil Kerja Tanah (Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur) 1988.

Medan Damansara – Damansara 21

IMGA0027

The Mayor of KL, Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail, together with Ikram and FT Ministry representatives met with Medan Damansara residents on Thurs 22nd October 2009.

The Mayor of KL, Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail, together with Ikram and FT Ministry representatives met with Medan Damansara residents on Thurs 22nd October 2009. The message to the residents appears to be that it’s up to the residents to submit a memorandum to DBKL if they do not wish to have the development.

It is curious that the Mayor had said “Something must be done without further delay. However, it is not easy for us to make a decision at this juncture as we do not want to be seen as siding with either the developer or the residents”. As the key person tasked to work for the welfare of the residents of KL, should he not have taken the side of the residents and not permit development until such firm regulations and ability of his officials to monitor, assure and enforce safe hillside development are in place?

DBKL do not appear to be concerned about how lives were put at risks due to failures in approvals given for developer to commenced development, nor were they interested in revealing how they will make the developer (and consultants) liable for inadequacies revealed in Ikram’s investigation into the landslide that affected 2 homes in August 2008.

IMGA0065

The Ikram consultant, En. Mohd Taufik Haron, went to great length to demonstrate how thorough Ikram had been in investigating the causes of failures.

The Ikram consultant, En. Mohd Taufik Haron, went to great length to demonstrate how thorough Ikram had been in investigating the causes of failures and the “stringent” standards they have demanded. The fact that it took 4 proposals before Ikram could be satisfied need not necessarily imply that the development will be safe. Perhaps it does more to demonstrate how developers and consultants are woefully incapable of providing safe proposals for hillside development.

In attempting to justify Ikram’s thoroughness in investigations, hill slopes were presented as inherently unsafe and comparison was made to how by development, the hill slopes would be made safer. Fortunately, the Medan Damansara residents were quick to rebut the over enthusiasm with a terse reminder that they were happily feeling save without any landslides affecting them for over 50 yrs and it took less than a year before development almost caused lives.

Damansara 21 development is 5.75 acres with almost 15% above 35 degrees gradient.

Will Bukit Gasing Proposed Development be approved on the same basis as Damansara 21?

GMSB’s proposed development covers 15.52 hectares (38.35 acres) with almost 50% of the slopes above 25 degrees gradient. In addition, there is a 23 million litre water reservoir adjacent to the proposed development with a 2 m diameter x 400m pipeline running along the boundary of the proposed development.

It took residents at Bukit Gasing 13 months to get a grant of leave for a Judicial Review by the High Court. Yet, DBKL and the developer are determined not to allow a public hearing to address our now amply justifiable concerns for safety. They have appealed against the grant of leave for Judicial Review.

DBKL and the developer’s appeal will be heard coming Monday, 9th November at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, commencing 9am.

When one considers the plight of residents of Medan Damansara and the performance of DBKL that lead to the disaster of landslide at Damansara 21. Can anyone be surprise at the measures taken by DBKL to avoid transparency?

1Malaysia Logo E

Our PM has called of a 1Malaysia, Performance Now, People First to his administration. I wonder what our refrain should be. Any suggestions? Could 1Devexxper, Performance no-nxxd, People lxxt be appropriate for DBKL?

Gary Yeoh

JAC for Bukit Gasing

From other blogs: Damansara 21 Stop Work Order Lifted: Developer Boleh Again

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 – In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the earth around the hill slopes of Bukit Antarabangsa, a suburban development in a thickly forested water catchment area in the city, groaned, shook and surged forward, buckling roads, overturning cars, snapping lamp posts, and flattening 14 houses in its wake.

Four people died, 14 others have been injured and over 2,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes.

Almost 15 years ago, 48 people, including the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam, died after one of the three Highland Towers condominium blocks located within the same Bukit Antarabangsa area came crashing down as a result of yet another landslide. At the time, then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad put a stop to further hillside development.

Was anyone listening?

One doubts it. Said Benjamin George, an 80-year-old doctor who survived the Highland Towers tragedy: “In three months, the tractors will start work again,” he told the press bitterly. “I have survived long enough to see all this nonsense repeated.”

Predictably, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose private secretary’s house was also crushed in Saturday’s landslide, echoed much of what his predecessor said 15 years ago. Saying that enough is enough, Abdullah decreed that there would be no more hillside housing projects in the area.

“Malaysians never want to learn from past experience,” said Abdullah, waxing philosophical. “They only want good views and developers only want to profit, but no one takes safety and soil stability into consideration.”

Abdullah is seriously missing the point here. In the first place, Bukit Antarabangsa isn’t an isolated case.

Last week, the earth moved in the swank suburb of Damansara Heights, burying 15 cars and forcing the staff of two buildings, including the headquarters of Malaysia’s largest investment bank CIMB, to flee.

And yet, residents of nearby Medan Damansara protesting a massive development of a hill slope area in their backyards have largely had their protests ignored.

Indeed, the developer has sued at least four members of its association for defamation. Even so, the hill slope has been largely denuded, leaving a gaping red wound in the area. Incidentally, Medan Damansara is about a kilometre or so from the CIMB building.

Abdullah should ask who are the people who approved such developments. Which are the agencies who agreed to allow potentially dangerous places to be sliced and diced into houses with a view? Clearly, some procedures aren’t being followed.

If they were, we might not be pondering the imponderable. How was a forest gazetted by the British as a water catchment area allowed to be developed in the first place?

All it takes is for the rules to be strictly enforced. There is, for example, a 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 they aren’t laws but mere guidelines. The solution is obvious. Parliament should make it a law. If it had, the nightmares in Bukit Antarabangsa and Damansara could have been avoided.

And proper drainage systems in a city that is palpably overdeveloped are a must. Anything less is neglect of criminal proportions. One only ignores nature at one’s peril. – Business Times Singapore

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/13891-guidelines-for-hillside-development-are-not-good-enough

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

Nuradzimmah Daim, NST Streets, Wednesday, 25 June 2008

 

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/Streets/Wednesday/Stories/2276207/Article/index_html

 

 

Datuk Seri Shukur Abdullah: Residents will file a civil suit if they do not receive a satisfactory response from the mayor.

KUALA LUMPUR: Residents of Medan Damansara are threatening to take City Hall to court if the controversial Damansara 21 project is not cancelled.

The residents’ association, through its chairman Datuk Seri Shukor Abdullah, described legal action as a last resort, but will file a civil suit if they do not receive a satisfactory response from Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan.

“We are seeking an explanation from the mayor of the letter we obtained from the Drainage and Irrigation Department saying it has yet to endorse the Erosion Sediment and Control Plan handed in by developer SDB Damansara Sdn Bhd.

“We also found out from the Selangor Mineral and Geoscience Department that SDB had done clearance on the hill, which has a slope of more than 35 degrees,” he said.

“The idea is to stop the development altogether. We will also write a letter to the Prime Minister’s office about our predicament,” he said after a meeting with about 100 residents on Sunday.

Among those present were Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng and Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong. Environmental activist and lawyer Derek Fernandez from Bukit Gasing also lent his support.

He said the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 states in its environment section that City Hall shall not permit development on slopes exceeding the allowable level set by the federal government.

“A directive by the cabinet in 2002 stated there must not be any development on slopes of more than 35 degrees.

“For development on slopes of 25 to 35 degrees, the plan must include a risk erosion map, slope stabilisation measures and geotechnical report,” he said.

It was reported City Hall will give the green light for the project if the developer meets the conditions for rectification work set on April 21.

SDB was slapped with a stop-work order and fined RM100,000 for not putting up a perimeter drainage system, siltation traps and hoarding; and creating an access road on Jalan Kasah when the plan stated it should go through Jalan Beringin.

SDB had also not maintained the blue plastic covers for the slope.

Last week SDB Properties Sdn Bhd project development general manager Choy Wing Sung said the company has asked City Hall to lift the ban as rectification work had been done and requirements met.

For more photos click on image:

Damansara 21 hillslope project:‘Are you listening, City Hall?’

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