By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Jan 24: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong today alleged there are two fishy omissions in the state Public Works Department (JKR) tender documents.
One, the department has deleted the ‘Made in Malaysia’ clause in their material specification that forms part of the tender documents in relation to geotextile materials.
Two, JKR Sarawak failed to specify the design strength of the geotextile to be used in its tender documents.
In response to JKR Sarawak’s recent revelation that contractors are allowed to use imported geotextiles under certain circumstances, Yong concluded that the department had deleted the ‘Made in Malaysia’ clause.
Speaking at a press conference today, she said: “Although JKR Sarawak is clever in working within the constraints of official policy and guidelines by the KKR (Works Ministry) and Finance Ministry (MOF) on the use of imported materials, that does not give them the right to delete the whole ‘Made in Malaysia’ clause from the tender documents.
“In essence, JKR Sarawak has changed the guidelines on their own for reasons only best known to them.”
On JKR Sarawak’s reason that they allowed the importation of geotextiles because Malaysian geotextiles could not meet demand at times, Yong said they should not make such a sweeping statement.
“I wish to remind them that they have to show proof that it is indeed such a case. The onus is on them,” she said, adding that she would bring the matter to the attention of KKR and MOF to investigate.
Geotextiles are one of the most important components for road foundations, and used to minimise the effect of sinkage and breaking up of roads.
In Sarawak, where there is much peat soil, Yong said it was especially important to ensure that geotextiles of high quality were used.
On the failure to specify the design strength of the geotextiles to be used in its tender documents, Yong said for embankment basal reinforcement, it is within the guideline that JKR Sarawak needed to specify the long-term design strength of the geotextiles.
“In this aspect, JKR Sarawak failed to specify in accordance with Arahan Teknik JKR 21500-0011-10 published by JKR slope engineering branch, JKR Malaysia and also did not follow the basic standard set by British Standard BS 8006:2010 and British Standard EN 1325:2001,” she said.
Yong lamented that because of this, the design strength for the geotextiles to be used is subjected to the tenderers’ interpretation.
She opined that JKR Sarawak had created an open-ended document, which allows contractors to choose their own geotextiles without adhering to any design strength specifications.
“This brings us back to the question of why JKR Sarawak finds allowing imported geotextiles so attractive? We even know of some suppliers who are not manufacturers but trading houses who issue their own data sheets for imported geotextiles. Something is definitely wrong somewhere,” Yong claimed.
She also asked if JKR Sarawak is ‘under specifying’ by choosing to omit characteristics of geotextiles that are supposed to be specific.
“Is this not compromising on the quality of roads in the state? If lives are lost as a result of road collapse because of compromised foundations, who will be responsible?” she asked. — DayakDaily