A section of the Dewan Dato Haji Ahmad Badawi building, barely 20 years old, at the Butterworth town field, has collapsed (see video above).
The building is believed to come under the purview of the Seberang Perai council, which exactly a month ago, received “city status” (whatever that means).
The field was once a venue for pre-independence nationalist rallies. In the 1970s local football league matches were played here as crowds of specators gathered to watch. Motorcyclists would stop their bikes by the road-side and crane their necks, their view partially blocked by tarpaulin sheets erected along the perimeter of the field to block the view of non-paying spectators.
Later, the field was narrowed when road-widening along Bagan Luar Road encroached into the field on one side. On the other side, the huge dewan was built. No more football league matches were played here. In 2013 fanatics threatened to hold a “Bible-burnng fiesta’ at this field – but thankfully that did not materalise.
Was there any shoddy construction of the building under the previous administration? Why was such a large building constructed at what was supposed to be a recreational area (around the then Butterworth Recreational Club), replacing a much smaller structure that existed last century?
Governments, past and present, spent a lot of money “beautifying” the area around this field including tacky rainbow lighting for a big “BAGAN” sign at one corner of the field.
But what kind of maintenance work was done? Apparently an “upgrade” to the hall should have been completed last year but it kept getting delayed as the cost spiralled.
No resources for maintenance – but the council now has a grand plan to build a new RM30m convention centre in Bandar Perda – to add to two other privately owned convention centres in mainland Penang.
Does the state/local council have the ability to supervise and maintain structures already constructed and or in the pipeline?
Talking about shoddy work, the state government now finds its hands full with hundreds of complaints about the workmanship at the new affordable homes at SP Chelliah Road in Penang Island.
This is what so many affordable home buyers in high-density high-rise blocks have to put up with after paying good money. Imagine their disappointment. Who is responsible for this fiasco?
The latest examples of shoddy work come almost a year after the collapse of a section of the Bukit Kukus highway, a RM300m project which comes under the Penang Island City Council. The collapse during construction on 19 October 2018 killed six Bangladeshis, two Indonesians and a Myanmarese.
It looks like the Penang state and local authorities have difficulty managing and supervising even relatively simple structures. They are so busy building and building, it seems they have little time – or lack the resources – for supervising and maintenance.
I dread to think how they are going to fare with six-lane highways tunnelling through hills, elevated light rail above the streets of Penang and massive land reclamation to create artificial islands.