Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Building safety: Be responsible builders

Incidents, like the recent collapse of ceiling beams at Hospital Serdang, can be avoided if contractors are committed to quality work.


Incidents, like the recent collapse of ceiling beams at Hospital Serdang, can be avoided if contractors are committed to quality work.

IT is frustrating to hear that the roof of another building has collapsed, this time that of Serdang Hospital. On numerous occasions, ceilings have collapsed, water pipes have burst, fungus has formed and air-conditioners have become faulty, especially at government buildings, including government hospitals.

Not too long ago, the roof of a football stadium collapsed in Terengganu. What and where will the next incident be?

One may question the quality of work, the quality of the contractor appointed and the authenticity of the certificate of fitness issued by the relevant bodies.

Who is to be blamed if innocent lives are lost during these incidents? The government has the duty of ensuring that buildings are safe.

Appointing contractors without experience, who eventually sub-contract to another party, will only result in poor quality work and possibly problems such as roof collapses.

Government buildings are not "try-out sessions" for inexperienced contractors and sub-contractors. One should bear in mind that government projects are funded by taxpayers' money and it must not be wasted or misused.

I suggest that this be made a standard operating procedure: each time a government building is damaged due to poor quality of work, the minister concerned shall fork out a half month of his salary and transfer it into a fund to be used to repair these buildings.

This will ensure that the minister concerned, and the departments and agencies under him, will be more cautious when appointing a contractor or consultant to carry out government projects.

The contractor shall be forbidden from sub-contracting unless approved by the said ministry.

The ministry shall ensure that the safety of the building, and therefore that of the public using it, is paramount when each project is carried out.

It is important for facilities such as roads, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd railway tracks, light rail transit (LRT) tracks, airports, flyovers, bridges and buildings to be frequently inspected by the relevant ministry and agencies to ensure they are safe.

The appointed contractors shall be called for joint inspections and the contractor shall bear the cost of repair.

The government shall review its agreement with the said contractor from time to time to ensure that the terms of the agreement clearly stipulate that the contractor bears the cost of repairs (if any) and gives warranty of at least 10 years from the date the certificate of fitness is issued.

Any mishap shall make the contractor liable and the contractor shall be immediately blacklisted and his licence shall be revoked if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that it was due to his negligence or that he failed to adhere to the required quality of service.

The prime minister and his deputy must step in and send a clear message to the ministries and contractors involved to be more responsible and committed to their work and to ensure the public is safe in all government buildings

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