Is ‘disaster tourism’ the next big thing for Kuala Lumpur, City Hall?

Kuala Lumpur City Hall is guilty of many things, one of them is its inability to communicate with, and pacify fears among city dwellers.

As city folks still reel from the recent flash floods that wreaked havoc on several major locations in the nation’s capital, another fear has presented itself – right in the heart of the Golden Triangle.

The exposed soil near a slope next to the Kuala Lumpur Forestry Department is a terrifying sight for those who drive along Jalan Ampang – both for its proximity to human beings and property, and the potential scale of the tragedy, should the unthinkable happen.

This is made even worse by the torn and disintegrating tarpaulin sheets on the ground, meant to protect the soil from torrential rain.

It’s been pouring heavily in Kuala Lumpur, daily. Now, there’s zero protection at the site.

It is as though City Hall is waiting for another disaster to happen before taking action.

For the record, the sheets were placed at the location following a landslide on Dec 19. These sheets are meant to be a stopgap measure to ensure proper water runoff before rectification and remedial works are carried out.

Temporary, according to the experts, means four to eight weeks. That’s it.

As it stands, it has been four months since the December landslide. Yet, there’s no hint of any work there.

The sheets covered most parts of the site near Bukit Nanas in this picture taken on Jan 19, exactly one month after the landslide incident. The main picture was taken last week. Image: Twentytwo13

Is it because City Hall and the Public Works Department (PWD) do not have enough funds? Are they hamstrung by endless red tape and must tick the right boxes before important work can be carried out? Or are they waiting for an incident at the site to go “viral” on social media before taking action?

The fear is real. In 2013, nine cars were buried in a landslide at the same spot, following heavy rain.

This particular spot isn’t the only slope where the stopgap tarp sheets have been used for longer than they’re supposed to.

There are many other areas in Kuala Lumpur, including near the Parliament building, and Bank Negara, where these sheets have been placed to mitigate the damage from the downpour.

There are also other areas where such sheets are seen on the exposed soil for many months, if not years. From a higher vantage point, the torn and tattered sheets look like sprinkles and stripes that decorate a chocolate cake.

City Hall and the PWD must address these concerns and communicate with the people as to what their plan is.

If they are unconcerned by the potential loss of human lives, perhaps a dent to their public image should be, as the nation’s borders prepare to open on April 1.

Imagine tourists from the many nearby hotels, walking in the area, documenting the tattered sheets and the exposed slopes during their stay, and tagging the spot as an ‘iconic landmark’ on their Instagram and TikTok.

What if a vlogger goes around with his GoPro and uploads his critical take of the scary sight on his YouTube account?

Perhaps being shamed on public domain would finally jolt City Hall and the PWD into action and get them to communicate their plans effectively.

Come on, City Hall and PWD – just get the basics right. City folks, including those running businesses in the area, have a right to know.