Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Collapse of Harbin Yangmingtan Bridge– Federal Government Should Immediately Audit The Construction of Penang Second Bridge

The world is surprised to know on Friday that a section of a multi-million dollar bridge in Harbin, northeast of China that opened in November 2011 has collapsed, leaving three people dead and five injured.

According to Xinhua news agency, four lorries fell off the Yangmingtan Bridge in Harbin City, Heilongjiang province, when part of it collapsed. It was reported that shoddy construction and over-loading have been blamed for the incident.

What is more alarming to us as Malaysians is that the contractor who constructed the Yangmintan Bridge is China Communications and Construction Company Ltd (CCCC, 中国交通建设股份有限公司), whose subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC, 中国港湾工程有限责任公司), is partnering with UEM Builders Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the UEM Group Malaysia (UEM) to construct the Penang Second Bridge from Batu Kawan at the Peninsula to Batu Maung at Penang Island.

The 24km long bridge is expected to complete and open to public in November 2013 despite delayed for about ten months.

The award-winning 15km long Yangmingtan Bridge spans across Songhua river and was finished nine months ago and cost RMB1.88 billion (RM878.23 million), Xinhua said. A 100m (328ft) ramp section collapsed, causing the lorries to plummet to the ground. Yangmingtan Bridge was built in 14-month and it takes no more than one year for it to collapse.

Another reason for cautious is the construction of 235km long Tianshui-Dingxi Highway in Gansu Province, which is also constructed by CCCC-SHB Meng Xing Engineering Co. Ltd, a subsidiary company owned by CCCC. According to media reports in China, the RMB8.7 billion highway was only opened to public in January 2011 but it has already collapsed twice in less than two years.

Since the construction of the Penang Second Bridge is progressing and there are another 14 months to complete the bridge, and CHEC is one of the contractors of the bridge, the Federal Government should immediately appoint an independent audit team with technical experts to audit and review the construction of the bridge to ensure that it complies with all safety measures.

The audit exercise should be a periodical exercise and its report should be published to ensure that the construction of the bridge will always comply with all safety measures to avoid any similar happenings like in the case of Yangmingtan Bridge.
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