KUALA LUMPUR: Structural failure possibly caused the collapse of an under-construction pedestrian bridge at KL Eco City near Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum here.
Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) director-general Datuk Mohtar Musri said the initial investigation suggested that a defective structure could have led to the disaster on Wednesday.
He said the department would refer to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall regarding the quality of materials used in the construction of the bridge.
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said a task force has been set up to probe the incident.
He said the result of the investigation was expected to be made public in a month, and that tough action could be taken against the developer if it was found to have flouted safety regulations.
“We can bring them to court, not just under DOSH but CIDB too. Under the CIDB Malaysia Act 1994, they can face a RM500,000 fine or a two-year jail sentence,” he said.
The RM7mil pedestrian bridge linking the planned KL Eco City project to the Gardens Shopping Mall in Mid Valley, which was still under construction, collapsed and killed one worker and injured five others on Wednesday.
The search-and-rescue operation at the site of the incident was halted after it was confirmed that there was no worker trapped underneath the mangled brick-and-iron structure.
City Fire and Rescue Department deputy operations chief Ruhisha Haris said K-9 teams had confirmed that there were no signs of a body.
However, the mystery of the missing construction worker remains.
“We first received information that a worker might have been trapped because a colleague saw him under the bridge minutes before it collapsed.
“A head count by the developer also revealed a missing worker, but they were unable to give us a name,” he said.
The dead victim has been identified as Tran Xuan Vang, 21, from Vietnam. Two other Vietnamese, Tran Van Hai and Luong Van Guyet, as well as Indonesian Nor Syamsi, Bangladeshi MD Jashim and Pakistan national Rais Aman Majid were injured and are currently being treated at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.
Medical staff were forced to amputate Rais’ left leg on site to save his life.
In a statement issued on the day of the incident, SP Setia, the developer of the project, said it deeply regretted the incident and was working with the authorities in the investigation.
“The project team is still assessing the situation,” it said.
Work on the KL Eco City project – a mixed development comprising three residential towers, one serviced apartments tower, three corporate office towers, 12 boutique office blocks and one retail podium – started in 2011 and is scheduled to be fully completed by 2023.
Commenting on the incident, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the time had come for players in the construction industry to practise their commitment to safety.
“All these accidents are preventable if the person in charge puts into practice good occupational and safety health measures and the site safety supervisor makes sure work is done properly,” he said.
By M. kumar and Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asian News Network
Stop history repeating itself
THE Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is horrified with the news of the collapse of the incomplete pedestrian bridge meant to connect KL Eco City and Mid Valley Megamall in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
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, another tragic incident leading to serious injury and death has occurred.
If all the parties involved in the building industry – including 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 calls for the Government to conduct a full inquiry into the operations of the Department of Safety and Health (DOSH), it would seem like the relevant authorities are unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation.
When incidents like this happen, it becomes clear to us that DOSH and developers do not have their priorities right.
Instead of working on preventing such incidents, 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.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Professor Datuk Dr Mahyuddin Ramli has been reported saying that incidents of this nature can happen when contractors do not comply with safety standards.
In this case, he said 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 said that another way something like this can happen is if contractors do not use proper scaffolding during the construction process.
The distance between scaffolds and the size of the scaffolds used are very important as they 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 said 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.
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 onsite safety inspectors should have known about the structural defects if they did exist.
This begs the question of whether or not proper safety inspections were done at the appropriate stages by the relevant parties.
We ask that the results of the investigation into the latest incident be shared with the general public.
CAP would also like to know what 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 have been involved in the project. They should all be held accountable even if they were not directly involved.
By S. M. MOHAMED IDRIS President Consumers Association of Penang
Worker killed in bridge collapse tragedy
KUALA LUMPUR: A Vietnamese construction worker was killed and five others were injured when a 70m yet-to-be-completed bridge near Jalan Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum and Mid Valley Megamall collapsed.
The victim was buried in the rubble of the collapsed pedestrian bridge.
As of press time, rescue workers were still searching for a Bangladeshi worker believed to be trapped in the rubble.
The authorities have since mobilised the K9 unit to locate him.
The firemen and paramedics were seen changing shift as the rescue mission continued into the night. Some were heard saying that locating the victim would be challenging.
However, all the rescuers were resolute in their attempt to find the last victim, never once giving up hope.
The five injured workers – two Vietnamese, two Bangladeshis and an Indonesian – were sent to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre for treatment.
Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Sharul Othman Mansor said the bridge was 80% completed when the incident occurred.
“We are still investigating the incident.
“We were alerted at about 4pm of the incident and quickly mobilised a search-and-rescue team,” he said at the scene.
Four roads were also affected by massive jams due to the incident.
According to Star Media Radio Traffic, the affected roads were the Federal Highway from the arch, the Kerinchi Link after the Pantai toll plaza, Kerinchi Intersection from Bangsar South or Pantai Medical Centre and Jalan Syed Putra from the Kuen Cheng School till the Robson Intersection.
While the main reason for the traffic congestion was due to certain road closures to make way for rescue workers, traffic was backed up near the mall due to many motorists slowing down to see the collapsed bridge.
Mall patrons, construction workers and curious onlookers were seen crowding the area near the bridge, where it was cordoned off for safety precautions.
By Farik Zolkepli, Jastin Ahmad Tarmizi, and Austin Camoens The Star/ANN
Govt may handle workplace safety
Fadillah: Independent monitoring likely
KUALA LUMPUR: The Government would like to take over the job of monitoring safety at construction sites away from developers following a string of deaths as a result of mishaps in the last three months.
Those duties, said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, may be entrusted to third party organisations that will be given autonomy in the planning, execution and supervision of workplace safety at construction sites.
Usually, these jobs are handled by contractors hired by the project developers but Fadillah said that this would mean the monitoring process was not independent.
Speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Construction Excellence Centre (Mampan), the minister said the suggestion for independent monitoring was brought up by the experts at the centre.
Mampan is headed by the Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (Cream), a subsidiary of the Government’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
Fadillah said the proposal to appoint third party safety monitors would be implemented first in Government construction projects.
He added that he hoped the private sector construction industry would do the same.
Currently, the Department of Occupational and Safety Hazard (DOSH) monitors government projects but it is reportedly too understaffed to keep track of every project.
For now we will have to make do with existing laws. This is why we need a commitment from the industry players,” he told reporters after the launch.
For now we will have to make do with existing laws. This is why we need a commitment from the industry players. Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof
He said that Mampan would be a key organisation under the Government’s environmental sustainability initiative for its Construction Industry Transformation Programme.
The centre will undertake research with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and the Rehda Institute to instil better industry practices, certification and awareness in the construction industry.
“We don’t want to build bridges that have no resilience and collapse when there is a flood.
“Our short-term goal is to position Malaysia as a regional leader in sustainability in construction and to raise the perception of sustainability in construction here,” he said.
Fadillah witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cream chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali and academics from the four universities and research institutes which will be a part of the new centre.
By NICHOLAS CHENG The Star/ANN