Friday February 15, 2013
Assistant manager: Shaft where victim’s car drove into located away from traffic
KUCHING: The developer of the city’s central wastewater management system says that it has taken all measures necessary to ensure that its construction sites do not become a public hazard.
Kumpulan-Nishimatsu-Hock Seng Lee Consortium (KNH) said that they regularly enhanced those measures and tailored them to suit the different locations of more than 1,000 shafts throughout the city.
Expressing his condolence to the family of Paul Primus, 25, who died early Wednesday morning after he drove into one of the shafts at Jalan Ajibah Abol, KNH assistant construction manager Sim Yih Seng said the consortium had tried to anticipate accidents that could happen before deciding on the necessary measures.
In the incident on Wednesday, he said the shaft was located on an island, away from traffic. “We have erected safety barriers and barricaded the area. It was also well-lighted since a street light was over the shaft. From an engineering point of view, the safety measures put in place were sufficient. We never expected anyone to drive all the way there (to the shaft),” he told reporters yesterday.
He said after the accident the company’s safety team inspected the area and found tyre marks showing where the deceased had driven off the road and onto the island before entering the shaft, measuring about 8.4m deep.
The distance from where the victim had entered the island and into the shaft was about 7m to 8m, said Sim.
Asked if the victim, who was an officer of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, could have lost control of his car before crashing into the shaft, Sim said: “We are leaving it to the police to investigate the cause of the accident and how it happened.”
That said, Sim reiterated that the consortium was doing whatever necessary for public safety, including hiring safety consultants and working closely with the relevant occupational safety and health agencies.
“We do all we can but you know accidents can still happen. We are in a dilemma,” he said.
As an example, he said it was decided that the open shafts, which could be as deep as 2.5m to 30m, should be filled with water so that the public, especially pedestrians would not be seriously hurt if they fell in, but even this could result in a fatal accident.
“Our main message to the public is to drive carefully. Do not drive too fast, and if you have consumed alcohol, do not drive,” said Sim.
Asked why the shafts were not covered, he said that though in some areas it would seem as if works had stopped, they were actually still going on underground.
He pointed out that there were some 30km of tunnelling to do to connect all the shafts and this was part of the first phase of the project which was scheduled for completion next year.
Since the project commenced in 2008, there were four deaths connected to it, including the latest.
The first three happened in 2011. In February, a 30-year-old passenger was killed on the spot when the car he was travelling in crashed into a metal structure at Ban Hock Road; in October, a man believed to be of mentally unstable had climbed the barricade surrounding a shaft and fallen into it, and in November, a 71-year-old man died when his motorcycle crashed into a crane parked at the project site in Jalan Nanas.