GEORGE TOWN, Aug 13 — Penang has gazetted stricter by-laws on earthworks under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 that allow compounds of up to RM250,000 per offence.
Penang state exco Zairil Khir Johari said the Street, Drainage and Building Compounding of Offences By-Laws 2020 was gazetted on July 2 for both the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP).
Previously, the by-laws for the MBSP only provided a maximum compound of RM250 for earthworks violations while MBPP had no provision at all for penalties and could only issue stop-work orders, he said.
The Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation Committee Chairman said this contributed to the 78-per cent violation rate of the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan (ESCP) at construction sites.
“This is because the penalty for non-compliance was too light so most of them do not care even after we warned them to comply with the ESCP,” he said in a press conference at his office today.
He said the amended by-laws were prepared earlier but could not be gazetted until July due to the movement control order (MCO).
The amendments upgraded three sections — Sections 70A, 71 and 121 — with heavier penalties.
Section 121 covered minor offences such as not putting up proper signage and provided for a compound of between RM1,500 and RM5,000 for each offence.
Section 70A related to unapproved earthworks or earthworks outside of approved planning that was now punishable by between RM7,500 and RM25,000 for each offence.
Finally, Section 71 penalises the failure to supervise or monitor construction sites that result in slope and retaining wall failures with a fine of between RM75,000 and RM250,000 for each offence.
Zairil said the state authorities have also increased the number of spot checks and operations since 2017.
“We held Ops Lumpur operation to check on construction sites and their compliance to the ESCP and in 2017, only six operations were held,” he said.
The frequency of the operations increased to 18 in 2018 and increased further to 77 in 2019.
He added that the non-compliance rate was very high as 60 out of the 77 places checked were found to be non-compliant.
This year, a total of 30 inspection operations were held and violations were detected at all but one site.
“We will give the contractors a grace period of until the end of this month to make sure they comply with the ESCP,” he said.
All contractors and developers conducting construction works and earthworks will have to comply with the ESCP and conduct their works in accordance with their approved earthworks plan from September 1 onwards.
He hoped the compliance rate will increase after the implementation of the amended by-laws.