Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

More Incomplete Construction Site Structures Collapsing Equals More Worker Deaths. WHEN WILL IT STOP?

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is horrified with the news about the incomplete pedestrian bridge meant to connect KL Eco City and Mid Valley Megamall in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur that collapsed.  Not even a month after a couple was crushed by a piling rig that fell on them at a construction site along Persiaran Astana, Klang and another tragic incident that has led to serious injuries and death has occurred.

If all the parties involved in the building industry - that includes the local councils, developers, contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, structural engineers, DOSH and all the others had carried out their roles and functions efficiently, this could have been prevented.

 

Despite our repeated call for the government to conduct a full inquiry into the operations of the Department of Safety and Health’s (DOSH) operations, it would seem like the relevant authorities are unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation as they have not heeded our call.  This is apparent since another construction site incident just took place.

 

When incidents like this happen it becomes clear to us that DOSH and developers do not have their priorities straight.  Instead of working on preventing such incidents from happening, they wait until it happens before scrambling to take corrective measures to fix the problem.  The issue here is that there are no corrective measures that can be taken once a life is lost; that is not something that can be recovered.

Even though the cause of the incident is not yet clear, logic dictates that this incident was not caused by an accident but a gross negligence on the part of the relevant parties.

A Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Professor, Prof. Datuk Dr. Mahyuddin Ramli, has been reported in Malay daily as claiming that incidents of this nature can happen when contractors do not comply with safety standards.  In this case, he says that concrete takes at least a week to dry and harden; the wet weather we have been experiencing means it will take even longer.  The USM Professor also claims that another way something like this can happen is if contractors do not use proper scaffolding during the construction process. Distance in between scaffolds and the size of the scaffolds used are very important as it will vary according to the structure they are meant to hold up.

DOSH’s Director General, Datuk Mohtar Musri, has stated that their initial investigation suggested that the incident happened because the structure was defective.  He says that they need to look into the quality of the materials that were used to construct the pedestrian bridge. 

Whatever the cause the relevant authorities and the public need to be aware that this is just history repeating itself, even though it should not be.

If the incident did truly happen because of a structural defect then it needs to be made clear that nobody can plead ignorance.  DOSH safety officers and on site safety inspectors should have known about any structural defects if they do exist.  This begs the question whether or not proper safety inspections were done at the appropriate stages by the relevant parties.

It has also been reported that certain parties related to the building industry are asking that the results the investigation for this incident be made known to them but we ask that this information be shared with the general public as well.  Moreover, CAP would like to know what has happened to the findings from the investigation of previous incidents.  Why has this information not been shared with the public when their lives are also put in danger by the conduct of those at construction sites?

In view of this, CAP calls for penal action to be taken against all parties who are or have been involved in the KL Eco City project as they should all be held accountable for what has happened, even if they were not directly involved.   The developer cannot be solely held responsible since other parties will feel that they can get away scot-free when something like this happens and this in turn will cause incidents of this nature to keep happening.

Letter to the Editor, 6 December 2016