Sunday, February 05, 2006

Middle Ring Road 2 - Repair to begin?

In the Beginning ... 18th August Year 2004,

Works Minister, Samy Vellu said the repair will take 3 months ....

By calculation, the repair works should have completed by November 2004.

On 4th February 2006, one and a half year later,

Works Minister Samy said the repair will begin soon and it will take 3 to 4 months to repair.

What? Not yet start work on the repair?

Well, lets imagine:

In 2008, ... will come the possible announcement ...

But, the now Works Minister, Samy won't be there to make the announcement ...

He would have retired!

His successor, the New Works minister announced that ...

The repair will start soon...

But flyover bridge had been demolished then...

to make way for a new tunnel ...

awarded to BumiHiway joint-venture with MMC ...

Historic Events of MRR2 that we should not forget.

In the Beginning ... that's where the project started:

Kuala Lumpur Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) route 28 was built by Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) to connect neighborhoods near the boundary of Kuala Lumpur.

The entire highway system consists of Federal Route 28, Damansara-Puchong Expressway E11 (from Sri Damansara to Sunway Interchange) and Shah Alam Expressway E5 (from Sunway Interchange to Sri Petaling Interchange). M

RR2 is generally referred to Route 28 since Route 28 occupies about two-thirds of the system.

Construction on this ring road would divided on 3 phase, This sections include Kepong-Gombak, Gombak-Ampang and Ampang-Sri Petaling.

The project was awarded to a consortium consisting of Sukmin Sdn Bhd, Bumihiway (M) Sdn Bhd and Konsortium Kontraktor Melayu (Wilayah) and the contract is to design and built the entire package 11 of MRR2 which covers a 4km stretch and cost RM238.8 million (the exacy contract sum is RM238,828,257.16).

The contract period is 36 months and was completed in 34 months (May 1999 to March 2002)

Controversial issues

The Kepong Flyover was reported to be faulty because 31 of 33 pillars supporting the flyover were reported to have obvious cracks.

Public concern about the safety issues at Kepong Flyover was due to the risks faced by at least 4,300 motorists using the flyover at a time.

Investigations were held by the government and as a result, Kepong Flyover was closed to traffic and then reopened with only 4 out of 6 lanes.

Works Minister Datuk S. Samy Vellu then imposed a gag order on his officers saying that he alone will handle any queries on the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) Kepong flyover repairs. But even he was reluctant to answer questions on the flyover which had been closed for repairs to cracks on 30 pillars which had attracted the Anti-Corruption Agency's attention.

"In this country today, only the Minister of Works knows what has to be done there (MRR2) and what is happening in this ministry. When I say it takes three months ... that’s the decision. We wait for the investigations by the ACA to be completed and after that, we will finish the job.”

“No more press statement from anyone except by me ... please tell all the engineers not to make anymore statements,” he said to an officer from the ministry.

Initial findings by PWD suggested that the temporary hoisting crane mounted on the permanent RC structural piers to launch the precast beams to the bridge decks could have exerted pressure on the concrete crossbeams and caused the cracks.

In its report to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, the department said its preliminary checks found that the structure at the 11th package of the MRR II was found to be unstable because of the strain and caused the beams to split at three sections.

Samy Vellu said the PWD’s findings showed that the crane hoisted on top of the crossbeam could have added pressure and as result there was an overload on the beam.

The PWD, which carried out its own probe, revealed that the MRR II’s Kepong bridge, was “not stable due to internal redistribution of forces and alternative load paths due to yielding of reinforcement.”

Samy Vellu said due to excessive hot temperature there was no homogenous drying, externally and internally, because of differential (uneven) drying of concrete. According to him, this could be the other reason for the cracks.

Mounsell, Sharma and Zakaria was the turnkey design consultant engaged by BumiHiway and Minconsult was the checking design consultant representing JKR. Flint & Neill Partnership was first commissioned by the contractor to undertake an independent third-party investigations. At the same time, JKR had engaged a German consultant, Kohler & Seitz, to study the same problem. As both the investigation consultants had came out with different conclusions, the government engaged Halcrow to give the last word.

Earlier, before Halcrow was employed to investigate, Samy Velly had dismissed PWD's consultant, Kohler & Seitz findings that faulty design had caused the columns of the elevated highway stretch of the Middle Ring Road Two (MRR2) between Kepong and Selayang to crack.

Samy Vellu: "This is no design failure. The engineer can sue them (those making such allegations). Noboby can simply open his mouth and say design failure. The question of design failure doesn't arise."

Samy Velly said there had been "little cracks on the structure" which had been studied by experts from Australia engaged by the original consultant of the project and experts from Germany engaged by the Public Works Department (PWD), and both had come up with different views.

"I have asked Zaini (Public Works Department Director-General Tan Sri Ir Zaini Omar) to engage a neutral consultant to study both recommendations to see what actually needs to be done.

"Both of them (the two expert groups) gave two different views. So I have to satisfy myself with a neutral view, which (one) is right, before I give the next directive on what should be done," he said.

The government of Malaysia then appointed British Halcrow Consultancy Ltd on 12 August, 2004 to study the cracks that have appeared on 31 of the 32 crossbeams since 2000.

On the fate of the project consultant, he said: "We didn't find anything wrong with the design. We can't punish them. We cannot make accusations. (We) have to investigate what happened to the columns."

Halcrow has found a rare phenomenon--the expansion of a chemical compound, ettringite, had caused serious cracks. The compound contains calcium, aluminium, oxygen, sulphate, water, etc. On 25 February, 2005, Halcrow recommended to JKR to waterproof the bridge immediately, so that the delayed ettringite formation (DEF) would not result in further cracks.

According to Halcrow that has sought the service of Glascow University, ettringite is found in cement. Usually, it does no harm. But, under rare conditions such as during concrete hardening, temperature reaching over 70 degree Centigrade in the presence of sulphate and plenty of water, ettringite is formed, expanding dangerously.

If all the cracks are not waterproofed, more water seeps into them, aggravating the situation. JKR must stop the water.

Since 1999, when the MRR2 project started, over eight consultants from overseas have been appointed for the design of the project and investigation of the cracks.

In September 2004, The Sun Daily reported that the MRR2 cracks due to design flaw and improper anchorage of crossbeams

That was supposed to be the verdict of Halcrow. Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who disclosed the findings in a press conference in Parliament lobby said:

"The anchoring was not done properly which was the cause of all these problems. The design also did not indicate the proper anchorage of the beams and the columns."

Halcrow's report was prepared by its bridge engineering director Roger J.Buckby and submitted to the Works Ministry.

"They are still checking to see what went wrong with the design," Samy Vellu said.

Samy Vellu read out a portion of the Halcrow report:

"The main cause of excessive cracking in the crosshead to the T-shaped pier is a deficiency in the design and the anchorage of the columns reinforced into the crosshead. There is also a deficiency in the design of the transverse reinforcement in the top of the crossheads to resist splitting forces between bearings. The horizontal cracking in the crosshead directly above the columns is a direct result of the inadequate anchorage of the column bars into the crosshead."

Samy Vellu had earlier said it would cost RM20mil to repair the flyover located between Taman Bukit Maluri and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.

Samy Vellu would not comment on the apportionment of responsibility for the faults, and who should pay for it, adding that the government would pay for it first. He said the RM20 million repair bill he mentioned earlier was only an estimate but added that it would not exceed this amount.

"We can ask the contractor to pay, but if the contractor says he is not interested in doing the job for the lack of funds, then how? Do we have to wait until it obtains the funds? It can't be, as the work has to resume," Samy said.

The whole controversy expanded when eight officers from the ACA's Enigineering Forensic Unit, including a case investigation officer, started investigation into the problem tho' nobody made a report. The team of investigators spent six hours examnining the cracks on pillars and beams of flyover along the MRR2.

The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), apart from investigating possible fraud will also check whether it was built according to specifications. The ACA, which obtained documents relating to the design focused on the technical aspects of the flyover to check for any discrepancies in its construction. The eight-man team took samples from the damaged pillars and beams and sent them for composition and durability analysis. An ACA source said the analysis would show whether the concrete chunks were mixed and laid out according to the road construction industry's specifications.

“The investigations will focus on whether those involved cut corners to reap higher profits at the expense of safety and durability. The technical team will verify whether the builder had adhered to the specifications outlined in its building plan,” ACA spokesman Rosli Ali said. The investigation team led by Rosli Ali measured the length, width and depth of the flyover's pillars and beams.

Politicians wanted the Government to review the process of approving design and building contracts following the recent safety threat at the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2). Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said a briefing by Public Works Department (PWD) officials showed that the Government had only a minimum role in supervising the project.

“As a result, in the Package 11 stretch of the highway, hairline cracks were found in 31 of the 33 flyover pillars. It is wrong to make the contractor responsible from beginning to end without any PWD supervision,” the Kepong MP said, adding that the committee was briefed that only one PWD engineer supervised the project from time to time.

Bentong MP Liow Tiong Lai said there was an urgent need to study the awarding of design and building contracts.

The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) later gave the green light for the Public Works Department to continue with the remedial work.

Samy Vellu said the department was asked to complete the repairs within the three-month stipulated period. “The priority now is to ensure that the MRR2 is safe for use.” Repair work on MRR2 was halted for the ACA to carry out investigations.

Till today, it is more than one year, and the repair works has yet to begin.

Samy, when will the three months commence????

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