KUCHING, Jan 16 — The federal Works Ministry today asked Bintulu Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to furnish evidence that the Work Package Contractors (WPCs) of Lebuhraya Borneo Utara (LBU) were being paid despite not carrying out repair works along the Pan Borneo Highway.
Works Minister Baru Bian’s special officer See Chee How said the ministry is extremely disappointed with the malicious accusation that impugns the reputation of the WPCs.
“We demand that he furnishes evidence to support his accusation or retracts his statement with an apology to the WPCs,” See, who is also PKR’s Batu Lintang State Assemblyman, said in a statement when responding to Tiong’s accusation that “errant contractors have been allowed to collect their payments without making the necessary repairs.”
Tiong’s statement was published in a Sarawak-based online news portal the DayakDaily three days ago.
Apart from making the accusation, Tiong had also called on Baru to resign from his post if he was unable to ensure that the highway would be completed on schedule by next year.
He had also complained of lack of safety measures put up along the highway, hazardous road surfaces, potholes and sub-par building quality.
See also clarified that the Sarawak’s stretch of the is still under the purview of LBU, not the federal Works Ministry.
He said the ministry will only take over from LBU as project delivery partner on February 20 this year, following the issuance of termination notice on September 20 last year.
“Therefore, road repair works are executed by the Work Package Contractors (WPCs) appointed for the respective sections and packages according to their terms of contract by LBU,” he said.
He said the ministry has consistently issued warnings to LBU on the matter of WPCs fulfilling their contractual responsibility for the safety of the people.
“Additionally, the minister has personally done spot-checks on several sites of the highway and has given stern warnings to LBU for errant contractors to repair bad road conditions,” he said.
However, he said the ministry does not have the authority to terminate any contractor found to be doing a poor job, adding that the termination can only be done by LBU in accordance with the binding appointment contracts.
“The ministry is also unaware if any errant contractors have collected payments without delivery of work as payments to contractors are still managed by LBU at this point in time,” See stressed.
He said the ministry is giving top priority to the road users’ safety by putting up mechanisms at various construction stages, particularly for travellers during festive seasons.
He added the state Public Works Department (JKR) is also closely monitoring the situation on the ground, especially on the speed of completing repairs on pot-holes.
See said with the upcoming Chinese New Year festive season, the ministry has ordered the relevant contractors to work fast to close as many temporary diversions as possible and open more stretches of the first carriageway to traffic.
He said the ministry wants contractors to speed up repairs to the damaged sections and pot-holes by having sufficient resources available during the peak traffic period.
“The contractors must also pay extra attention to traffic management by ensuring ample road signages and that road furniture is in place,” See said.