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Samy Vellu’s explanation on
four-fold increase in MRR2 repair bill from RM18 million to RM70 million too
glib, facile and irresponsible
(Parliament, Monday) : The explanation by Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu that the four-fold increase in the RM120 million Middle Ring Road Two from RM18 million to RM70 million is too glib, facile and irresponsible.
He said the initial figure did not take into consideration the RM8 million fee paid to a foreign consultant and that the number of pillars needed to be repaired also doubled from 18 to 36.
Ticking off the Opposition for challenging him to reveal the reason behind the repair cost, Samy Vellu said: “We have nothing to hide. You ask, I will answer.”
The question is why the RM8 million foreign consultant had been excluded in the first instance. Secondly, how did this exclusion justify the four-fold jump of the repair bill from RM18 million to RM70 million. Most important of all, why is the government and the 26 million taxpayers landed with the RM70 million repair bill for MRR2 when it should be fully borne by the negligent MRR2 contractor, Bumi Highway?
It is sad that despite his over-a-quarter century Cabinet experience, Samy Vellu has failed to grasp his fundamental responsibility to be accountable to the Malaysian people and not when there is Opposition questioning.
A responsible Minister who subscribes to the principles of accountability and transparency would have voluntarily released all the relevant facts and figures to explain the four-fold increase in the MRR2 bill without having to be badgered for answers by the Opposition.
It was only last week that the taxpayers were assured by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi that the government had learnt valuable lessons from past failed projects and have put in place mechanisms to avoid delays in project completion, ensure cost effectiveness and end expensive cost overruns.
The MRR2 repair scandal - a double scandal in firstly having to be closed down within two years of completion because of flyover cracks when it should be able to meet international standards and last for 100 years, and secondly the four-fold cost overrun in its repair bill - is proof that the government has learnt nothing about mechanisms to end shoddy work, delays in project completion and cost overruns, and that this disease has reached as high as the Cabinet level.
On August 9, 2004, the MRR2 flyover in Kepong was closed after cracks were discovered. On August 12, 2004, the Cabinet appointed British consultants the Halcrow Group to investigate reasons for the cracks and come up with a way to repair the MRR2. On Sept. 29, 2004, Halcrow submitted its findings, noting that a design flaw and the improper anchorage of the crossbeams on the concrete columns were at fault.
This Halcrow report was supposed to be the “decider” as the foreign consultants employed by the contractor and the Public Works Department after the cracks were detected each gave a different verdict as to the safety of the flyover. In December, the British consultants submitted a draft of the remedial measures for the repairs to the PWD.
But virtually nothing was done to carry out urgent repairs of MRR2 as the next 14 months from December 2004 to February 2006 saw an intense turf war between the PWD and the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, which finally required the personal intervention of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a special Friday meeting on 3rd February 2006 attended by, among others, the Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcob and Chief Secretary, Tan Sri Samsudin Osman.
Samy Vellu won the battle against the PWD at the Feb. 3 meeting but eventually lost the war. Although Samy Vellu announced after the meeting that the MRR2 repair work would be supervised by the British-based consultants Halcrow, maintaining that the costs would be RM18 million, the turf war was finally won by the PWD at a Cabinet meeting two weeks later which upheld the PWD’s recommendation in awarding the repair work to German consulting firm Leonhardt Andra and Partners (LAP) at a cost of RM40 million.
Now, this RM40 million repair bill has ballooned to RM70 million. Samy Vellu must give the Malaysian people a detailed breakdown of the RM70 million bill, and explain why it is the taxpayers who are paying for it when it should be Bumi Highway.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman