Penang bans Bukit Kukus builders from future council projects

The landslide at the Bukit Kukus construction site which claimed the lives of nine workers last October. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today ordered a ban on three parties involved in the Bukit Kukus elevated road project from taking part in any future projects by the city council.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the order was given to the Penang Island City Council, the owner of the RM530 million bypass road project in Air Itam which is expected to finish construction in 2020. Work was temporarily halted following a fatal landslide last October.

“The state executive council has decided that the council should not offer the companies involved any new jobs with immediate effect.

“The three parties involved will not be considered for any new jobs,” he said in a press conference at Komtar here.

Although he did not provide specific names, he said the parties involved were the main contractors, engineers and consultants of the project.

He added that the project’s contractors would continue their work albeit under heavy supervision by engineers and the city council.

According to Chow, efforts are underway to strengthen the site, with official work on the road to resume after Chinese New Year.

The stop-work order given by the council and the Department of Safety and Health was lifted on Jan 28, about three months after the landslide which claimed the lives of nine workers on Oct 19. Another three workers were injured in the incident.

Chow said the previously confidential findings from the high-level group probing the landslide would be released to the public after Chinese New Year.

He said the incident was likely caused by a poor “temporary work site” as findings had shown that there was “no proper design” at the site.

To claims by the Consumers Association of Penang that the project did not have an environmental impact assessment (EIA), Chow said exemption had been given by federal regulators.

Because the Bukit Kukus road was a Category U3 road, he said, the Department of Environment had waived the requirement for an EIA.

Mayor Yew Tung Seang meanwhile said the main contractors of the project had given compensation to the victims via the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952.

He said the city council had also cooperated with AirAsia to repatriate the nine workers who had died to their home countries of Bangladesh, Indonesia and Myanmar.

When asked how the payout was made as the contractors had reportedly claimed that the workers were not theirs, Yew said a police investigation into the matter was underway.