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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Monitoring, enforcement vital

WHAT is it about hillslope developments which hold so much enchantment for some, developers and house buyers alike, and yet be the source of so much controversy and frustration?

For a certain category of house buyers, the view matters. Because they are prepared to fork out loads for it, developers pander to what some may consider a mere whim.

Banning all the hillside development is not the solution, says Lim.

Says Henry Butcher Malaysia president Lim Eng Chong who lives in Ulu Kelang, which is in the middle of the controversy: “Banning all hillslope developments is not the solution. Developments should still be allowed but with stringent rules and as I have repeated time and again, monitoring and enforcement are crucial.”

Since the Highlands Tower incident in 1993, local authorities have every now and then, “banned” hillslope developments only to quietly issue approvals for hill projects.

The issue is not the fickleness of man in positions of authority and power, but the concerted willpower to monitor and maintain.

Lim says houses and high-rise are built on steeper slopes in Hong Kong, the Mediterranean coast line, the United States and other parts of the Western world, yet there are much less mishaps surrounding them.

“Safety rules are followed and strictly enforced in these countries. Developers are like any kind of businessmen; theirs is to maximise profit. There are the responsible ones and irresponsible ones. They must be guided and overseen by the authorities,” he says.

He says there does not seem to be a comprehensive policy and plan here to minimise such incidents. There is no 100% prevention anywhere in the world but a blanket ban is not the solution.

“We read about express buses getting involved in accidents and lives are lost. Do we ban all such buses? Let us look at the maintenance of these buses and the drivers behind them. In the same way, let us look at the developers and how they go about building on slopes and how the authorities monitor and maintain these slopes,” he says.

Lim says homeowners too need to take action to strengthen the slopes.

“Because it costs money, many prefer to live dangerously rather than to spend the money.The authorities know about it and should have taken action to compel the owners to take preventive measures or do it themselves,” he said.

Following last week’s incident, Lim expects fear to impact demand and prices. Cost is expected to go up as authorities impose stricter conditions.

As homeowners mull over selling out of Bukit Antarabangsa and its vicinity, Lim will buy more as prices drop.

“I love the hills and trees. It’ll be value for money,” he quips.

By The Star

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