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Breakwater saves southernmost Asian mainland

Tanjung Piai's breakwater.

Tanjung Piai's breakwater.

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – November 7, 2017: After years of trying to save mainland Asia’s southernmost cape from consistent coastal erosion, Johor has finally got it right.

Not only has the 800-metre offshore and three-kilometre long breakwater significantly slowed down Tanjung Piai’s erosion, it has also rejuvenated the ecosystem.

Tanjung Piai is a mangrove wetland in Pontian and sits at the meeting point of the Melaka and Tebrau straits; it is also one of the five Ramsar sites in the country.

A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated of international importance listed in the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty under which its signatories are obligated to maintain the quality and ecosystem.

Before the breakwater was completed last year, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim pointed out that coast in Tanjung Piai had been rapidly eroding.

The cause of erosion was a combination of busy shipping traffic and the coast’s natural susceptibility to rogue waves.

“Our past efforts did little to stop the erosion. We lost up to 160 metres of coastal areas over the past 20 years but we never gave up hope,” read Ismail’s statement.

The construction of the breakwater began in 2014 following Irda’s cooperation with the state Irrigation and Drainage Department and the federal government.

Concurring that at RM80 million it was costly, Ismail however described the end-result as very rewarding as it not only shelters the coast from erosion but doubles up as a breeding ground for several types of fishes, including snappers, groupers and grunts.

The area has also become a favourite fishing spot for anglers who rent boats from Tanjung Piai’s pier to go to the breakwater.

“Irda is also in the midst of restoring Tanjung Piai’s wetlands and the mangrove forest for the benefit of our future generations,” said Ismail.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

Despite becoming The MOLE's journalist in 2014, he still has a hard time traversing the city. If he is not lost, this northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make some sense out of the Malaysian political sphere.