GEORGE TOWN: Builders of the paired roads at Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong, the scene of Friday’s landslide, did not abide by a stop-work order after an earlier accident, says the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).
DOSH issued the order after a row of beams fell into a ravine after being knocked down by a crane on Oct 11, said Penang DOSH director Mohd Rosdee Yaakob.
Fourteen concrete beams, measuring 25m each, came crashing down from an elevated section of the highway that day.
However, the stop-work order was confined to the accident site, which was about 1km from the scene of the landslide.
Mohd Rosdee told The Star that the main contractor was called in on Oct 15 to explain the accident.
“We found that many of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) were not followed and we told the contractor that work could not go on.
“We also told the contractor to explain the procedures that were in place to prevent such an incident.
“However, we received reports the following day that work was going on, including at the site of the landslide,” he said yesterday.
Mohd Rosdee said the contractor was called in again on Friday morning to explain why work was still going on.
“They did not give a satisfactory reply and we issued them with a stern warning that the stop-work order must be complied with.
“However, we are not certain if this was done as the landslide occurred later in the afternoon,” he added.
Once all victims of the landslide had been found, he added, a probe into the contractor’s violations of the stop-work order would begin.
If found guilty in court, they could be fined up to RM50,000.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has ordered all contractors and engineers involved in the project to come up with a report on the cause of the disaster.
“Based on visual inspection, we know that the mishap is related to the slope and rainfall,” he said.
As for the setting up of a commission of inquiry, he said this would be done if needed.
“Having such an inquiry is a lengthy process. The inquiry into the construction site incident last year in Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah, has not even been completed,” he said.
Chow also hoped that DOSH would allow mitigation and slope stabilisation work to be conducted although the stop-work order had been enforced.
“The site might not be safe yet and the slope needs mitigation work. Development must go on with proper control and monitoring given emphasis,” he said.
The Penang Island City Council is drafting stricter compliance measures, including RM250,000 compounds, for those who do not follow erosion and sedimentation control plans.
State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said it was not an issue of SOP, but rather of conformation and compliance that needed closer monitoring.
He was baffled as to why the independent checking engineers, appointed by the council, did not monitor the project and present their feedback.