Jail negligent builders, says safety advocate after latest SUKE disaster

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has called on the government to make public the findings of investigations into accidents at construction sites.

The Alliance for Safety Community chairman said those responsible for negligence that results in deaths should be placed behind bars.

“Please don’t pay lip service to safety. Developers and contractors say “kita utamakan keselamatan” (we prioritise safety) but it’s only lip service. They don’t practise it,” said Lee.

“Developers and contractors must never take safety for granted. The government must also be firm and not compromise. Send those responsible to prison.”

Lee was commenting on this morning’s incident in which three foreign workers were killed and a motorist was seriously injured after a crane component fell at the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Highway (SUKE) construction site at Jalan Alam Damai in Kuala Lumpur.

A stop-work order has been issued.

Today’s incident is the fourth known case involving the project over the past nine months.

List of accidents at SUKE sites since June 2020:

  • June 20 – A steel mould framework fell onto the ground during disassembly near Taman Bukit Mandarina Second Enclave in Cheras, almost hitting a worker and a passing vehicle. A stop-work order was issued by Occupational Safety and Health Department.
  • July 7 – A beam fell from an elevated position onto the road below at the Persiaran Alam Damai stretch in Cheras. Traffic had to be diverted.
  • Sept 19 – A parapet wall slab fell and hit a car on the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) near Bandar Tasik Selatan. The woman in the car injured her left hand.

Separately, on March 3, five people were trapped in a factory van travelling on the MRR2 near Bandar Tasik Selatan when a portion of a bridge under construction fell on it after it was hit by a trailer carrying heavy machinery.

“I’m not the government. I’m an advocate. And we need more advocates.

“Often, when accidents occur, it is because the project contractor did not give sufficient attention to public safety. Even the developer is responsible. It’s their project.

“That another incident occurred this morning does not speak well about the safety and health aspects (adopted at the site).”

Lee said it is time for the government, especially the Works Ministry, to take a serious view about all these incidents.

“Each time the authorities will investigate. But where are the detailed findings? They should be made public. The public has a right to know.

“People have died. It is of public interest. You can’t have a Royal Commission of Inquiry for such reports to be made known.

“We must also know who was responsible, who was negligent. We have never heard of anyone being held responsible for deaths. We only hear of fines.

He said the fines are “small”.

“What about the deceased. Where is the justice?”

Lee also said the local council shoulders the responsibility of keeping those in the area safe.

“If high-risk work is being done above a busy road, then perhaps the road should be closed or an alternative route should be provided. Each time people drive in the area and when they look up, they worry if something may just fall on them.”

He also urged the parties responsible to review their standard operating procedures (SOPs) as they may no longer be relevant today.

“It is also high time for the government to restore public confidence. With all these infrastructure projects going on, people need to feel safe.”

Here’s the news round-up for The News Normal today.


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