Make someone accountable for negligence
By Doreenn Leong |   |  Opinion

The recent incident at one of the construction sites for the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) project in Klang may have renewed fears of many Malaysians.

On June 17, a steel truss collapsed at the LRT3 construction site at Jalan Meru at around 5am. Luckily no one was hurt during the incident.

But this does not make the incident less severe. Judging from the pictures of the collapse which have been circulating on social media, the incident appears to be quite bad and would have claimed lives, had it taken place during peak traffic hours.

In the past, there were numerous incidents at LRT and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) work sites. Some of these involved fatalities, and authorities would launch their investigations and families of the victims would be compensated.

However, have these findings been made public? Were those who were found negligent punished accordingly or were they given just a slap on the wrist?

Making such reports public would be in the interest of accountability, transparency as well as to create awareness.

Recall that in 2014 the Kota Damansara MRT incident killed three workers, prompting MRT Corp CEO Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid to resign.

However, the board decided that it would not consider Azhar’s resignation until a probe into a deadly site accident was completed. Was the cause of the incident made public?

In the same year, a worker was killed and another was believed to be trapped while six others were injured when the formwork and scaffolding for the Ampang LRT extension project worksite in Subang Jaya collapsed.

In 2018, there was a partial collapse of a launching gantry at the MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line construction site at Jinjang, claiming the life of a Malaysian worker and injuring two others.

As for the recent LRT3 mishap, the Selangor Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department chief Supt Azman Shariat said further investigations into the incident are still underway.

However, some netizens have accused the construction company of trying to cut costs, while others blamed the engineers for not calculating the load balance properly.

Of course, until the police reveal their findings, these remain as accusations.

MRCB George Kent Sdn Bhd is the turnkey contractor of the RM16.63 bil LRT3 project and one of its work-package contractors, Sunway Construction (SunCon), is responsible for this portion of work.

SunCon was awarded the largest package for the LRT3 project. Its portion is worth some RM2.18 bil to build a total of 9.2km and six stations.

This is not the first time SunCon faced some hiccups in the project. In April 2018, the mobile crane was tilted while lifting a tank at an LRT3 site near Sri Andalas, Klang, but was later brought back to ground without any injury or damage to public property.

Two months later, a bored pile casing slipped from a trailer while it was being lifted about one meter above and fell back onto the trailer near LRT3 work area at the same work site but no damage or injury was reported.

More often than not, such incidents do occur without causing damages, injuries or fatalities.

But overall, the increase in the number of deaths and injuries related to the construction industry is indeed alarming.

In 2018 alone, the industry recorded the highest number of deaths across the nation’s economic sectors. The Occupational Safety and Health Department’s (DOSH) statistics recorded 169 deaths and 3,911 accidents in the construction sector for 2018.

Former chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said that the rate of fatality per 100,000 workers in the construction sector is 13.44 in 2018, as compared to 14.57 in 2017.

He added that Malaysia’s Fatal Accident Rate was not only 10 times worse than in the UK, but had in fact deteriorated by 20% since the turn of the century, according to a Construction Industry Development Board report.

More stringent safety measures need to be taken to ensure that we keep accident and fatality rates low. These include introducing stringent enforcement and policies through the strengthening of existing laws, enhancing site safety supervision as well as giving construction workers adequate training.

At the end of the day, how many more incidents or deaths need to occur before the authorities take sterner action to ensure the culprits do not go scot free? Findings should be made public and someone must be held accountable to ensure such incidents are not taken lightly. - June 18, 2020

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