Committee, which will have special meeting tomorrow on the RM238 million
cracked MRR2 Kepong flyover , should impress on all parties concerned the
urgency and top priority of getting the flyover safely re-opened for public
use in the shortest possible time
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Berita Harian and New Straits Times today carried a report with photographs of the six-hour examination by the eight-men Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Engineering Forensic Unit of the cracks of the RM238 million Middle Ring Road Two (MRR2) Kepong flyover, resulting in the flyover closure since August 8.
They reported that the ACA team examined “the cracks on the pillars and beams”, took samples from “the damaged parts of the flyover” and “checked for structural weaknesses and measured the depth as well as the width of the cracks”.
The question that immediately comes to mind is whether the ACA has now become the most authoritative and qualified body to decide on the causes for the MRR2 flyover cracks two years after completion when it should be able to last 50 years without any structural defects – even superseding the authority of the Public Works Department (PWD) or even the two consultants, the Australian consultant engaged by the contractors and the independent German consultant engaged by the PWD? Or even the second independent consultant which the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has asked PWD to engage?
Or is the ACA wasting everybody’s time trying to become the “expert of experts” on the real causes of the MRR2 flyover cracks, whether it is design flaw, construction negligence or supervision failure, when its proper focus should be to examine whether there had been any impropriety, irregularity, abuse of power or corruption in the whole award of the RM238 million Package 11 of the MRR2 “design and build” turnkey project, instead of wading into the highly technical field of its causes?
It was reported that yesterday, a group of 30 ACA officers, who are taking up courses in engineering forensic at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Johore, also visited the site with their lecturers – giving the impression that the cracked Kepong flyover closure is being used as an occasion for an outing by the officers undertaking the course, in utter disregard of the daily sufferings of tens of thousands of people caught by the nightmarish traffic gridlock as a result of the flyover closure for more than two weeks!
Why did the ACA Engineering Forensic Unit visit the MRR2 flyover for on-site inspection and photography only 12 days after opening investigations on August 12, when the ACA should be fully aware of the great public interest to have the flyover repaired or rectified and safely re-opened for use in the shortest possible time?
Now that the ACA has visited the site and made the necessary inspections, is it giving the “green light” to the PWD to start immediate repair or rectification of the Kepong flyover, or must all repair or rectification works continue to be in a limbo until ACA has finally decided on the causes of the flyover cracks and completed investigations?
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has scheduled a special meeting tomorrow on the RM238 million cracked MRR2 Kepong flyover, which includes an onsite inspection.
At its meeting tomorrow, the PAC should impress on all parties concerned on the urgency and top priority of getting the Kepong flyover repaired or rectified so that it could be safety re-opened for public use in the shortest possible time!
The PAC should present a report on the first day of Parliament next Thursday on its findings and recommendations on the MRR2 Kepong flyover, as it should be particularly mindful that the the RM238 million cracked MRR2 Kepong flyover should not become another RM195 million MATRADE scandal - a standing symbol of Third World Mentality in a land of First World Infrastructure, still incomplete more than seven years after its original completion date in February 1997.
This was because the PAC had a special meeting on the MATRADE Building scandal on 3rd September 2002, where it was promised that it would finally be completed in July 2003 – the latest in a long catalogue of unfulfilled deadlines. The PAC meeting in September 2002 asked for a quarterly progress report on the final rectification of the design flaw of the MATRADE Building, but this was never complied with.
Like the MRR2 Kepong flyover, the MATRADE was a “design and build” turnkey project of the PWD which went terribly wrong.
The 24-storey originally RM167 million MATRADE (Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation) building, the first of three buildings for the Trade and Investment Triangle Complex at Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur meant to be a one-stop centre for trade, industry and investment, was scheduled to be completed on 10th February 1997, to be followed by the construction of MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) and MIDA (Malaysia Industrial Development Authority) Buildings.
The PAC was informed in September 2002 that cracks sere detected on the floor, walls and staircase of the MATRADE Building in 1998. Since then, there had been two “rectification” works, the first one costing RM 11.74 million and the second RM16.7 million, bringing the total cost of the building to RM194.9 million.
The original contractor, Perangsang International Sdh. Bhd, who had been given three extensions of time for completion of the project till 3rd January 1999, had refused to carry out the rectification works. However, it had been paid RM186.8 million.
On 4th January 1999, it was imposed “Liquidated Ascertained Damages (LAD)” fine for late delivery at RM41,750 a day – which should now work out to some RM85 million as the building has not been completed. But this is a empty and hollow LAD, as Perangsang International Sdn. Bhd. is bankrupt.
For the past seven years, the imposing RM195 million MATRADE Building has stood as a symbol of shame for Malaysian construction engineering and governmental inefficiency and lack of accountability.
When it meets on the MRR2 tomorrow, the PAC should ensure that the RM238 million cracked MRR2 Kepong flyover does not join the MATRADE Building as a second symbol of shame for Malaysia’s first-world infrastructure – by ensuring that the people are giving a clear accounting as to the causes of the flyover cracks, the parties and persons liable, the repair or rectification measures necessary so that the flyover could be safely re-opened for public use in the shortest possible time and the lessons to be learned from the MATRADE and MRR2 Kepong flyover scandals.
The PAC should ask for access to the two consultant reports on the MRR2 flyover cracks, one by the Australian consultant engaged by the contractors and the other by the German consultant engaged by the PWD, so that they could be tabled in Parliament together with the PAC report.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman