The huge landslide that was wrought upon the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway during a downpour on Wednesday, November 11th was one of the worst to hit the nation within the last few years and crippled transport to between the West and East coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Expressway is currently undergoing cleanup and repair work while the hill that gave way is being examined and precautions put in place to ensure the low likelihood of the incident repeating. It will be closed to all traffic at KM52.4 until Saturday, writes Bernama.
Benton police cheif Supt Mohamad Mansor Mohd Nor said the reopening of roads would depend on weather conditions and the green light from slope experts. He also advised road users to be patient and plot alternative routes for now.
But what caused the landslide to begin with? Some believe it could be due to uncontrolled (and therefore illegal) logging at or close to the Lentang Recreational Forest area. After witnessing the excessive logging activities there, Puan Seri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil, president of Pertubuhan Perlindungan Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA) had expressed concerns about it posing a danger to the nearby highway following the construction of the Tenaga Nasional Malaysia passageway from Benton, Pahang to Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan.
However, those concerns fell unto deaf ears and authorities did not heed the letters of protest sent their way or the highlighting of the issue in the media. This led to more forest land being illegally harvested despite it being a known water catchment area.
"It is understood that the logging activities started in late October, 2013 and then the encroachers wantonly cleared more land at the Lentang Recreational Forest in the name of development," Shariffa Sabrina told Bernama.
"When we knew about this, PEKA sent an official letter to the Pahang state government on Jan 20, last year, expressing our concern over possible adverse effects of the uncontrolled logging activities."
It was only a matter of time before the ground became loose enough through the already damp and unsecured soil to cause for the Wednesday downpour to trigger the mudslide that evening. Shariffa added that the problem could grow worse if logging in Bukit Tinggi and Lentang were allowed to continue, and the next incident could have a human cost.