Penang city council among parties to blame for Bukit Kukus landslide, probe finds

Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and other parties involved in the construction of an elevated road in Bukit Kukus did not adhere to engineering best practices, a committee probing a landslide there last year has revealed.

The committee, led by Deputy Chief Minister I Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman, said the landslide was caused by many factors, which included a poor set-up for the temporary worksite.

“MBPP, as owners of the project, had failed to ensure all the hired parties did their job,” Zakiyuddin told reporters today.

The committee said MBPP had failed to hire a professional engineer for temporary works to design and supervise a proper temporary work site. The temporary worksite was created to allow heavy vehicles to lift beams onto the elevated road.

Zakiyuddin also said a contributing factor was the downpour of nearly 10 hours, with rainfall measuring 55m from 1.45am, a day before the incident.

He said contractors were not able to drain, clear and maintain the rainwater collected in the landslide area.

This was due to a stop-work order issued by the Department of Safety and Health two days before the incident after a crane operator crashed into 11 concrete beams, which were laid on the columns.

“The contractors could not construct a temporary ‘toe drain’ to drain out surface run-off from the heavy rain.

“The rainwater was absorbed into the earth, causing the temporary work site to become unstable,” he said.

The Institution of Engineers Malaysia, which was part of the investigation committee, concluded that the worksite was unsafe, and lacked supervision and comprehensive inspection and testing. It also said the project owner failed to identify risks and the poor management of the sub-contractors.

On the current status of the project, Zakiyuddin said MBPP was supposed to supervise the project to completion but consultant engineers Jurutera Perunding GEA (M) Sdn Bhd had taken over project supervision. The project is currently 80% completed.

“It is sensible to allow the current contractors to continue till project completion in 2020, with strict scrutiny by the MBPP,” he said.

The landslide on Oct 19 last year killed nine and injured four.

The RM530 million road project stretches 5km through the hills of Paya Terubong and Relau. Work on the project resumed on Jan 28.