Granito tragedy: TBRA responds to commission of inquiry findings

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Photograph: Daniel Lee

I thought the city council got off quite lightly. The following is the response by the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association:

The recommendations of the State Commission of Inquiry on the Granito tragedy in Tanjung Bungah that led to the deaths of 11 workers on 21 October 2017 must be urgently translated into action and given effect by all the relevant government agencies.

This has to be done in order to avert future tragedies related to hill-site and hil-slope developments, not only in Penang but throughout the country.

The deaths of 11 innocent workers on that fatal day should not go in vain and real reforms must result, following the lessons learnt and the recommendations made by the inquiry.

The Tanjung Bungah Residents Association took an active part in the inquiry, and we are happy to see that some of our calls for reform have been reflected in the recommendations.

Key among them is the recommendation to amend the “Safety Guidelines for Hillsite Development 2012” “to render it applicable to any and all slopes (whether permanent or otherwise), natural or man-made (and whether existing or only to be formed later during construction), which has (or is intended to have) any height above 25 degree gradient”.

The commission of inquiry has recommended that in such cases, a geotechnical report and an independent checker must be made compulsory in relation to such slopes.

In the Granito case, all parties including the engineer who was primarily found responsible for the slope failure by the commission as well as the Penang Island City Council, took the position that the hillsite guidelines did not apply to the project, as the building footprint for the project was on land below a 25-degree gradient and the guidelines only applied to natural slopes and not to man-made slopes.

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As confirmed by the commission of inquiry, even when the city council’s engineering department was alerted to the fact that a 60-degree slope was being envisaged from the earthworks plan for the project, the council did not invoke the hillsite guidelines, which would have required a geotechnical report and the appointment of an independent checker.

TBRA had submitted to the commission of inquiry that had the city council imposed such a requirement, this tragedy may have been averted.

While the commission of inquiry report was very stern and strong in its criticism of the engineers involved in this project – and for which we commend the commissioners – it is regrettable that the commission of inquiry was not harsher on the city council in this regard, when it concluded that the municipal authority was not responsible as “it was not unreasonable (without the benefit of hindsight) for MBPP to treat (the earthworks plan) as a ‘working-method’ towards achieving the construction of multi-tier walls” and that the city council “was not responsible for scrutinising working-methods”.

We believe that the city council should have received more flak from the commission of inquiry and not left off the hook – especially when they did not even conduct site checks, knowing that steep slope construction was going.

The state commission of inquiry findings have clearly revealed many shortcomings in our policies and enforcement capacities towards hill slopes and hill land development.

We agree with the inquiry recommendation that the “MBPP should immediately draw up and enforce a policy that no development project shall be allowed to commence any works (including earthworks), unless and until a qualified resident engineer(s) shall have been employed and stationed at the site to supervise construction works…”.

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It is also good that the commission of inquiry report has also recommended that “MBPP shall make spot checks, by surprise visits to construction sites, from time to time. If need be, the manpower in the enforcement department in MBPP ought to be enlarged with competent personnel.”

Unless the enforcement capabilities of our municipal authorities are seriously beefed up and followed through with rigour on all hill-site developments, tragedies such as that in the Granito case are bound to be repeated.

Placing complete faith in engineers, developers and contractors to follow the law is certainly not prudent as seen from this tragedy.

We sincerely hope that the Penang state government’s move in setting up a committee involving the various agencies to come up with recommendations following the commission of inquiry report is expedited and acted on with urgency.

Until such reforms are in place, no hillsite and hill-slope developments should be approved.

Meenakshi Raman is chairperson of the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association.

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Jordan
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Jordan

The deportation of Turkish teacher Arif Komis and his family from Malaysia, despite their status as UN refugees, has raised comparison with Putrajaya’s refusal to extradite controversial preacher Zakir Naik back to India.

https://m.malaysiakini.com/news/490178

Arif & family could be executed by Erdogan regime?

tunglang
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tunglang

Malaysia desperately needs Turkey’s big car engineering & acceptance of Proton to sell to the Turks. So, no desperation to protect a family of refugees from possible execution. Unlike Zakir Naik, a ready pawn for religio-political apologetic pandering.

Jordan
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Jordan

Mahathir got kam cheng with Erdogan, but not Modi (India has ties with Israel?).

If India buys palm oil from us, maybe ZN could be extradited?

ZN is treated as asset, courted by Bersatu and Umno-PAS. Could be used to draw crowd in GE15 ceramah?

Ernest Lau
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Ernest Lau

Tun M recently visited Turkey. Must be some (alleged) arrangement made with the Turkey dictator to repatriate Arif(?) Similarly to get the Samurai Bond from Japan, Tun M u-turned to approve Lynas{?}. Japan is the US agent for rare earth since US can no longer get suppky from China. Unfortunately Modi has got nothing to barter for Zakir. Zakir is respected by malays just because he could recite Quran from first verse to the last, but no necessarily right in his interpretation. He is biased against other religion. Check up a famous Youtube clip where Zakir made lots of mistakes… Read more »

Tajudin Raj
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Tajudin Raj

Malaysia uses double stàndards when dealing with nations. If they were Chinese Nationals or the chinese govt. ask for deportation, it will be done so quickly that there will not be a squeak from any Minister, Religious leader or even any organization. If China or even Turkey would have asked for his deportation, he would had been on the first plane out, without considering the danger he would have to face. The only people that will raise discontent will be those attached to the human rights movement. Just becàuse India decides to use proper diplomatic channels, they are given the… Read more »

Proarte
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Proarte

Let’s all move on! Poor Najib has been humiliated enough by being dragged to courts. Most of the money will not come back, so why waste so much money in court time just to ‘punish’ Najib? How will putting him in jail get back the money which has already been spent? … how can (Mahathir) be sure Najib will be given a fair trial? Mahathir must remember that Allah Subahana Wa talla said that Muslims ‘are the best of human kind’ and so Najib being a Muslim must be forgiven and brought back to the right path by fellow Muslims… Read more »

Wei
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Wei

what nonsense are you talking about? what is so special about nacheat ? or you mean we are going to stop prosecute all criminal in this country…? …

Anfield
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Anfield

Singapore may increase its supply of public housing next year as the city-state introduced measures Tuesday aimed at making such homes more affordable.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said the measures would help more Singaporeans from lower to upper-middle income households buy their first homes.

https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/09/11/singapore-unveils-changes-to-make-public-housing-more-affordable#AzYkYeEU5dAa0g3Q.99

Hong Kong folks must be looking in envy.

Jordan
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Jordan

How Singapore fixed its housing problem.

Hong Kong should have engaged HDB expertise decades ago.

tunglang
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tunglang

If HK had engaged SingLand’s HDB expertise, Li Ka Shing & others wealthy-not-enough may not be so exceeding wealthy today. There was no place for socialist-style housing in the fixated minds of maxi-profit at the expense of the Hong Kees.

Now, Li Ka Shing is pleading the protestors for ‘Love HK’!
But does he know what is Karma? Go on loving yourself in your richie penthouse while you see the city explodes daily in violence.

Anfield
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Anfield

Housing Minister Zuraida: Unsold high-end properties here to be offered to HK, China buyers

“In fact, it’s cheaper to buy homes here instead of there and to fly, with the price of travelling making it cheaper to have homes in Malaysia than in Hong Kong. I went to one unit of flat there at 250 square feet; it cost RM3 million. Evten a minister can’t afford a home there,” said Zuraida.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/11/minister-unsold-high-end-properties-here-to-be-offered-to-hk-china-buyers/1789539

Jordan
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Jordan

Across the Penang Bridge, a massive development is underway at Batu Kawan:
https://youtu.be/bG7T3fZKJTo

The place is less dense compared to the island, at least for now.

YB Loh
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YB Loh

They already resumed selling the Granito units in basement 1 Gurney Plaza. Means they are confident the project will proceed after stopping a few years(?)

tunglang
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tunglang

If the sea tunnel proposal doesn’t go thro’ we will see what happens much like Times Square when it was hoping for an LRT (a proposal by Gerakan before the 2008 election) to pass thro’ its front door bringing instant wealth & spending consumers.
The sea tunnel proposal doesn’t have cat’s 9-lives of trying arrogantly!

Jordan
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Jordan

Times Square overpromised its buyers with LRT at doorstep but it did not happen. Buyers lost confidence … after that.

tunglang
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tunglang

Now, still very hard to sell the more than 10 years old Time Square condos. PRC Chinese negotiated hardball to buy from dispirited property agents?