Bukit Kukus landslide probe reveals contractor did not consult experts

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GEORGE TOWN (Feb 13): The failure of the contractor to consult engineering experts before building a field embankment is the cause of the landslide at the site of the paired highway in Jalan Bukit Kukus, Paya Terubong last October, said Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman.

He also said that the special investigation committee set up by the State government found that the landslide happened at the temporary work site area.

“They built a platform to put their machinery to assist in lifting the beam on top of the column. We found that the contractor built the field embankment without any engineering calculations and did not submit any statement of the proposed methods to any consultant or resident engineer.

“There’s a possibility that construction best practices were not adhered to. Compaction tests were also not carried out and this was supported by the consultant supervising the project,” said Ahmad Zakiyuddin, who is also the committee’s chairman.

The landslide which occurred at the site of the Bukit Kukus paired highway, owned by the Penang City Council (MBPP), on Oct 19 last year killed nine foreign workers and left four others injured, while one more person is still missing.

The paired road project, aimed at connecting Paya Terubong and Relau near here, is expected to be ready by May 2020.

Ahmad Zakiyuddin said heavy rain on the day of the incident also contributed to the landslide as poor drainage resulted in water seeping underground and caused the slope to become unstable.

The committee also identified seven other factors which contributed to the incident, including unsafe building processes, lack of supervision, lack of comprehensive inspections and poor management of sub-contractors.

He said the State government had blacklisted the project contractor, Yuta Maju Sdn Bhd, engineering consultant GEA (M) Sdn Bhd and the independent checking engineer G&P Professional Sdn Bhd, who were all also responsible for the project.

“Although all three companies have been directed by MBPP to complete the remaining 25 percent of the project, they will not be allowed to tender for any State government projects in the future,” he said.