By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Jan 18: Sarawak Public Works Department (JKR) today assured that materials, especially geotextiles, used to construct roads in the state met specific technical standards, acceptance criteria and conformance testing.
Assistant Minister of Coastal Road Datuk Julaihi Narawi said the technical standards were specified in the Specifications and Particular Application in the tender documents of the projects to meet specific design requirements by the state JKR.
“The technical specifications and criteria and conformance testing for geotextiles as specified in the tender documents are the minima that must be complied with during construction. The technical specifications, criteria and conformance testing are such that they are not restrictive or tailored to suit any one particular brand of product or supplier only.
“Compliance with these technical standards, acceptance criteria and conformance testing will ensure only quality products are used in the projects,” he told reporters today in response to Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong’s statement yesterday.
Yong had questioned the state JKR if it had adhered to guidelines as prescribed by the Works Ministry, particularly in the use of geotextile materials. She accused the state JKR of ignoring proper guidelines when it comes to the use of geotextiles.
“JKR Sarawak contravened guidelines of road construction in Malaysia. In their tender documents, it did not specify the mandatory use of local geotextiles, and this could have given a loophole for contractors to source for alternatives.
“We have acquired information from reliable sources that some contractors of JKR projects had procured geotextiles from China, Taiwan and South Korea although they were for projects not related to the Pan Borneo Highway,” Yong told a press conference yesterday.
Julaihi explained that JKR tender documents did not specifically allow the use of foreign product per se.
“The use of Malaysian products is not strictly mandatory as the Standard Specification for Road Works (SSRW) JKR/SPJ/1988 specifically allows for foreign products to be used if Malaysian products are not available locally or, if available, are not of acceptable standards.
“The Ministry of Works has not published any official technical specifications on geotextiles. SSRW does not state the technical standards and criteria for geotextiles. The technical standards and criteria for geotextiles may vary from project to project and even from different areas of application within the same project.
“This is because the selection criteria of geotextiles are dependent on the ground conditions and the design requirements by the professional engineers,” he said.
Julaihi added that geotextiles manufactured in Malaysia generally meet the technical criteria and standards and are being extensively used in road construction projects in Sarawak.
However, he elaborated, in certain circumstances, such as when supply of Malaysian geotextiles could not meet with the demand and when such a situation could lead to the delay in road construction and the contractor is contractually bound to offer mitigation measures to avoid delays, the Superintending Officer (SO) may then approve the use of foreign geotextiles, provided that the technical criteria and standards as specified are met and conformance testing is carried out as specified.
He said the use of such geotextiles would be subject to the application from contractors and prior approval of the SO must be obtained before they are allowed to be used in the project, all as per specified in the older version of SSRW, which is applicable for the current projects under construction.
“JKR Sarawak has started to incorporate the latest version of the SSRW JKR/SPJ/2015-S1 into JKR tender documents for the new projects. The new version states that the contractor shall use locally manufactured materials and goods as listed in `Senarai Bahan/Barangan Binaan Buatan Tempatan’ issued by IKRAM QA Services Sdn Bhd and/or `Senarai Bahan/Barangan Buatan Tempatan’ issued by SIRIM QA Services Sdn Bhd, whichever is relevant,” Julaihi revealed.
He added that if the contractor failed to comply with the requirements, such materials supplied shall be rejected. In addition, he also stated that under no circumstances will the contractor be permitted to incorporate or supply imported materials, plant, equipment or other goods into the work or forming part of the Scope of Works except those approved by the government prior to the execution of the contract.
“In this regard, there is, in fact, an avenue for the use of imported materials provided they are approved by the government prior to the execution of the contract,” said Julaihi. — DayakDaily