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    HomeNewsMalaysiaSantiago: Sg Muda barrage incident occurred outside office hours

    Santiago: Sg Muda barrage incident occurred outside office hours


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    In a surprising revelation, it has been discovered that the staff in charge of the barrage operations at Sungai Muda, the main water source for Penang and Kedah, only work from 8.30am to 4.30pm during the dry season. The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has stated that round-the-clock surveillance is only conducted during the rainy or flood seasons.

    This lack of continuous monitoring is one of the factors that led to the recent unscheduled water disruption in Penang and Kedah, affecting nearly 679,000 consumers. Charles Santiago, the chairman of SPAN, acknowledged that the incident on May 13, which resulted in uncontrollable water flow from Sungai Muda, occurred outside working hours.

    The incident took place at 10pm on a Saturday, causing water levels at Sungai Muda to drop significantly from their normal 3m to 0.67m by sunrise the next day. As a result, SPAN has emphasized the need for the staff from the Sungai Muda River Basin Management (PLSM) to work round-the-clock daily.

    To address this issue, Santiago suggested extending the surveillance hours by declaring Sungai Muda a security zone through the National Resources, Energy, and Climate Change Ministry. In addition, SPAN proposed the establishment of a Barrage Management Committee at Sungai Muda to improve inter-agency collaboration.

    One of the main concerns highlighted by Santiago was the lack of efficient communication and real-time information among the various agencies involved in the operations. He emphasized the importance of expanded staff hours with a focus on water supply, as well as the fortification or indefinite closure of the infrastructure at the Sungai Muda barrage in Penang.

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    The investigation conducted by SPAN identified a technical glitch as the cause of the automated barrage gate’s fault. The gate, which was supposed to be closed, opened due to a technical failure without any alert system in place. With the system being 20 years old, regular maintenance and upgrades are necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future.

    Looking ahead, Datuk Ahmad Faizal Abdul Rahman, the chief executive officer of SPAN, proposed seeking alternative water sources to reduce dependence on Sungai Muda. Although there have been reports of discussions between Perak Mentri Besar and Penang regarding water supply support, the progress is uncertain. SPAN remains hopeful that a solution can be found.

    The recent water disruption in Penang and Kedah serves as a prominent example for all authorities, highlighting the need for efficient management of rivers that cross multiple states. SPAN’s recommendations aim to prevent such incidents from recurring and ensure a reliable water supply for these regions.

    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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