Thursday, February 09, 2006

MRR2 - Samy vs JKR

What? JKR not allowed to make an engineering design-decision regarding the methods of rectifications for MRR2 which was attributed to design shortcomings? The Prime Minister decides to mediate and calls on the Board of Engineers to be the court of final resort on the MRR2 Debacle? Isn't JKR under the Ministry?

The dispute - Works Minister wants to follow Halcrow's recommendation for rectification which was purportedly a face-saving (for himself) and will cost less for the contractor. Public Works Department (PWD) are convinced that the contract terms stipulate that the Turnkey Contractor is fully responsible and liable to make good the Work in full complaince of the terms of conditions of contract pertaining to design quality specified. PWD thus wants to Contractor to fulfil its obligations and ensure that the flyover meets the qualified quality specified.

However, Works Minister Samy Vellu admitted that some weakness in the design and climatic factors had contributed to the cracks in the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) viaduct in Kepong.

"There's some problem with the design but it's the weather in this country that contributed mainly to the structural problem," Samy said.

He gave an assurance that the MRR2 would be safe for use after it was repaired in four months at a cost of RM18 million and that the viaduct could be used for 95 more years because viaducts were normally built to last 100 years.

He explained that the cracks were not on the road but on the pillars and truss of the viaduct.

What kind of bullshit explanation is this?

As a civil and structural engineering design consultant employed by the contractor, it is their professional and fiduciary duty to ensure that the structural design do take into consideration of all aspects, be they environmental, social, and operational into the design.

Samy Vellu said that although the local climate had been taken into account at the initial stage, the hot and wet weather conditions contributed to the cracks, compounded by the pipe leakage at the viaduct.

What crabs are they? This is oxymoronic reason. How can he say that although the local climate had been taken into account, the hot and wet weather conditions contributed to the cracks? The weather conditions in Malaysia has remain the same -Tropical Climate with temperature ranging between 20-36 degree and rainfalls throughout the last 35 years have been consistent; often wet and dry with intermittent rainfall. Is there a reason why the design engineers had not considered the hot and wet climate consistent conditions in existence over the last 35 years? In Law, this can amount to reckless negligence and the design engineers may be liable in an action for tort, should JKR seeks legal redress.

Samy admitted that the design factors had contributed to the cracks. Doesn't this constitute a breach of contract by the contractor? Again, this breach would also amount to reckless negligence and actionable in Contract and Tort.

The disagreement between the Works Minister and PWD seem to stem from the question of which report to follow - Halcrow or Kohler & Seitz? Both are reputable civil engineering design engineers internationally. Applying the legal principles, unless both report is factually contrary, the rights of PWD is reserved and that PWD can elect to apply the recommendations from either. It is the burden of the contractor to rebut the presumptions in the Kohler & Seitz's report if they are disagreeable with the presumptions and findings of Kohler.

However, it is observed that the Works Ministry is sympathetic towards the contractors possible hugh financial liability should the German consultant's recommendation is followed.

Isn't it absurd? Works Ministry is siding the contractor and fighting against their own department?

JKR has hundreds of PhD design engineers who are fully competent and highly skillfull in engineering design and the department is headed by the nation's best structural design engineer who happens to hold a doctorate in structural design.

By convention and the rule of law, the Works Ministry is not suppose to interfere with the engineering design aspects and decision-making. The Minister is suppose to administer the system and process and listen to their experts. If the department lacks the competency and ability, and are unable to provide a justifiable engineering solution, then only can the Minister step in to provide guidance and assistance by seeking external expertise.

However, it can be seen that non-engineers are making engineering design decisions and expert engineers are mouth-strapped and put under duress.

More puzzling is that the Prime Minister had to step in to mediate the differences and being a "Good-Guy", decided to call in the Board of Engineers to be the Court of last resort. What is happening to Malaysia? Are we having leadership crisis or a clash of civilisation?

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