Friday October 26, 2012
Zero tolerance recommended
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: The Public Works Department (JKR) and the District Office (DO) have been directed to get tough with unethical construction contractors and to force them to pay for repairs to every single defect in their government-funded projects.
Assistant Minister for Communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin yesterday gave these zero-tolerance directives to the local DO and JKR, even as he ordered a probe on an allegedly errant contractor.
Lee gave the directives while inspecting a squatter resettlement village in Kuala Baram near the Sarawak-Brunei border.
He said he was dissatisfied when he found evidences that showed that a contractor appointed by the state authorities to build a house under a scheme for the hardcore poor had cut costs by using very diluted cement for the floor.
“I want the DO to identify the contractor and demand an explanation immediately. The concrete is so thin (less than half a centimetre thick). This is unacceptable,” he said at a press conference after visiting the Tudan 6 squatter resettlement scheme.
“We cannot show mercy any more to errant or unethical government contractors, especially those who deliberately use low quality materials and do a lousy job just to increase their profits.
“The low-cost houses are for the poor, the blind, handicapped and single mothers as they have no means to help themselves,” he said.
He insisted that contractors chosen by the DO and JKR must follow the project specifications laid out in their contracts.
“They cannot earn indecent amount of profits by cutting corners and doing a poor job and in the process make the needy suffer. Contractors who have bad records in Miri must be singled out and blacklisted.
“If their projects are defective, they must be forced to pay for the repairs. If they refuse to rectify the defects, the DO and JKR will recommend that their company be deregistered.”
Lee said the Government through the Rural and Regional Development Ministry allocated between RM40,000 and RM50,000 to construct a low-cost house, adding that this amount was enough for a builder to complete a well-built house and earn a decent profit.
He said contractors who did a good job would get to build many units, and thus earn more profits.
There was, therefore, no need to cut corners just to earn indecently high profits, he added.
“I will personally inspect these projects. As for the DO and JKR, I want them to carry out more stringent audits on a regular basis.
“We cannot allow delays, shoddy jobs and badly done jobs to be the norm as these would cause the Government to lose money on needless repairs and overhead costs,” he said.
Lee yesterday also visited a blind musician, Jackson Manggai, and informed him that the ministry had approved a RM50,000 grant to build a low-cost house for him at the Tudan 6 resettlement scheme, some 15km north of the city.
The assistant minister and his staff members had helped to liaise with the Miri DO and the ministry’s headquarters in Putrajaya to secure aid for Jackson, who is currently living in a zinc hut.
Saying there were still 4,056 local squatter families waiting to be resettled here, he hoped to solve their predicaments by getting more low-cost rental units built here, as well as facilitate village extension programmes to accommodate more families in existing villages.
Lee noted that over the past decade, the government had resettled some 10,000 squatter families throughout this district.