By Karen Bong
KUCHING, April 3: The Rumah Seri Kenangan (RSK) Kuching project, a home for the elderly, is ‘sick’ and has been directed by the Public Works Department (PWD) to be re-tendered.
Work on the RM12 million projects started in 2012 and it was supposed to be completed by 2015 but encountered contractor problems, lamented Minister of Welfare, Community Well-Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.
“Unfortunately, the contractors failed and were not able to complete the construction despite being given chances and extension of time. So, finally, the PWD decided to re-tender the project,” she told reporters after officiating at the Art and Music Therapy for the Elderly and the Destitute programme at a hotel here today.
“The contractors have been terminated, and the project is currently in the middle of a re-tendering process. The documents are being prepared.”
Fatimah, however, emphasised that construction for the project had, in fact, progressed substantially over the years, but the structure was not going to be ready for occupation as many parts would now require to be repaired due to neglect, decay and tear as well as other maintenance work.
The new RSK Kuching was being constructed at the old site at Mile 12, Jalan Kuching-Serian.
Its 70-odd residents were temporarily put up at Samarahan Rehabilitation Centre near Jalan Datuk Muhammad Musa here.
“We are also constructing a new building for RSK Sibu as well, and the residents there are now temporarily put up at the Children’s Home,” she added.
Noting that the delay had left the project with a ballooning price tag from the initial estimated cost of RM12 million, Fatimah pointed out the facility would provide a beautiful and homely home for the elderly from poor backgrounds, including those without families or have been abandoned or neglected.
“The residents will feel as if they are at home. There is a garden, and it is such a beautiful concept,” she assured.
In February 2017, it was reported that the first phase of the reconstruction of RSK Kuching was 80 per cent completed with full completion expected in June the same year before construction for the second phase is kicked off.
But the completion was delayed as a news report on April 2018 indicated that the new completion date would be in September of the year after a new contractor was appointed. At this point, the project was reported to be over 90 per cent completed, but work was halted following a technical problem involving the previous contractor.
When completed, the RSK Kuching will be able to accommodate about 150 residents.
“It is different from Desa Bina Diri (DBD), which is meant for people below 60 years of age, like the homeless and those begging on the streets who are still productive and have the ability to live independently,” she explained.
This group, she added, would be guided and trained with skills that enable them to generate income so that they would not go back to their old habits when returning to the community.
On the success rate to help and ensure the well being of these groups of people, Fatimah observed that the efforts still leave much to be desired.
Welfare Department acting director Joni Nuruddin was also present. — DayakDaily