New Straits Times
PM: WE’LL LOOK INTO FAULTY BUOYS
3 buoys written off and haven’t been replaced
THE government will look into reports that three deep-water buoys worth RM7.2 million, used to gather data as part of an early-tsunami warning system, have been disposed of for being dysfunctional and not replaced.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this at the launch of the 33rd Meeting of the Asean Committee on Disaster Management, and the 6th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management and Related Meetings yesterday.
“We will check and look into it,” he said.
The New Straits Times reported that the installation of the Norwegian-made equipment was done in phases since 2006 in three locations: the Andaman Sea, the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea.
The buoys’ placement was to detect early tectonic plate movements under the sea, which could lead to tsunamis.
The tsunami buoy project, or tsunametre, was the result of a Malaysian-Indonesian collaboration following the 2004 Aceh earthquake, which killed more than 230,000 people from 14 nations, including Malaysia.
However, one buoy — located 500km from Langkawi and 60km from Bandar Acheh, Indonesia, in the Andaman Sea, which was placed on Dec 30, 2005 — was recently found not to have transmitted data every 15 minutes, as it should.
An investigation revealed that the equipment had disappeared from its original location.
Another buoy — placed near Pulau Layang-Layang, Sabah, near the South China Sea, on March 7, 2006 — suffered the same fate.
The buoys were written off as lost, having been either dragged away by sea currents or destroyed by vandals.
The third buoy — installed near Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, near the Sulu Sea in 2010 — had exploded during maintenance on the MV Pendamar vessel, and was no longer in use.
Malaysia Meteorology Department director-general Alui Bahari said the buoys’ contractor, Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (ATSB), was forced to dispose of the buoys following the cabinet’s approval.
The decision to dispose of the buoys was made over multiple factors, including maintenance cost, effectiveness and durability.
He said the buoys, each costing RM3 million, transmitted data via Immarsat C satellite through a telemetry system every 15 minutes.
Alui added that as a result, the buoys’ role and functions were taken over by an alternative system, which combined tide gauges, coastal cameras and siren systems being installed in stages nationwide.