Monitor trees in Kuala Lumpur regularly to reduce risk of falling trees and branches

The local government must undertake more methodical and regular scrutiny of trees in the city

Fallen branches along Lorong Maarof, Bangsar Park, after a heavy downpour on the evening of 25 May 2024 – BENEDICT LOPEZ

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On Saturday evening, 25 May, at around 18:30, I was driving home when a sudden heavy downpour with strong winds swept across Bangsar.

I thought I could reach home safely before any untoward incident could happen, but I was unlucky.

As I was turning from Jalan Bangsar into Jalan Maarof, a tree branch crashed down a few feet away from my car. If I had been driving any faster, it would have hit my car, perhaps even damaging it. Luckily, a Good Samaritan removed the fallen branches in the pouring rain.

I notice many trees in the city do not have strong roots. When a heavy downpour or strong winds lash the city, these trees tumble down easily. This was what happened that day, with trees falling like dominos in various parts of Kuala Lumpur.

Trees that are susceptible to parasitical plants must also be checked often. Various organisms thrive off these trees, suffocating them.

Several parts of the country frequently face thunderstorms nowadays. Many tall buildings and trees, especially those with compressed leaves, hinder the wind flow, causing a tunnel effect.

Trees in the city need to be trimmed and pruned regularly.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall engages contractors to handle tree maintenance. They include arborists or tree surgeons, who advise on how to manage these trees and what species of trees are suitable for a particular area. These maintenance personnel must increase the frequency of their checks.

In fairness, I must say that whenever I complained that the trees in Bangsar Park and Lucky Gardens need trimming, the work is carried out. The trimming is done professionally by City Hall and only when necessary are the trees cut down.

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City Hall is confronted with a dilemma. It has to ensure Kuala Lumpur maintains its green city status while ensuring the safety of urban dwellers and commuters.

Some have expressed anxiety about their safety. Others have called for more regular monitoring of the trees and closer checks on older trees. This is a justified request.

The recent heavy downpour with ferocious winds that resulted in trees crashing down was an eye-opener. It showed the need for a more methodical and regular scrutiny of trees in the city.

Because of the unpredictable, harsh weather of late, City Hall needs to intensify its efforts to check on trees in the city. It has to take urgent action to avert property damage, traffic disruptions and loss of life.

The local government needs to provide enough money and staff for regular inspections. These personnel have to remove dead or decaying branches and prune overgrown branches that pose a danger to urban dwellers.

Pre-emptive measures for tree maintenance will reduce the danger posed by falling trees and branches.

The local government must prioritise public safety to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.

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Benedict Lopez
Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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5 Jun 2024 6.07pm

Trees need to feed to be healthy, however, we sweep the streets of their food sources on a regular basis to have clean paths and clear drains. Then we poison what is left to kill pests and the insect life the trees need.
I think a different approach is required if we wish to coexist with nature. Trees sink a lot of carbon that we produce. The local authority could be paid for that by net zero businesses. In this way the wildlife in the city can pay for its upkeep. Trees, and the soils that they make, absorb and slow water when they are not interfered with. This suggests that trees should form part of the long term drainage planning for the city. Which of course requires a robust planning department free of the influence of money adicts.