PETALING JAYA: Diversions and road closures as well as heavier penalties are among several steps experts have proposed to keep motorists safe when travelling past sites where elevated highways are under construction.
Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the most effective way would be to close the roads where construction work is ongoing.
However, he conceded that may not be practical, failing which, he said building contractors should be made to create diversions to draw traffic away from areas where the risk of mishaps is highest.
He was commenting on a recent incident where a crane structure fell and crushed a car at the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway construction site in Alam Damai.
Three Chinese nationals, who were construction workers at the site, died in the accident while a Malaysian who was in the car sustained serious injuries and is being treated at the Canselor Tuanku Muhriz Hospital.
The accident, the latest in a string of such mishaps, has led to calls for a thorough investigation and appropriate penalties for those responsible for such negligence.
The latest one, which occurred on March 22, was the third of three such cases in six months.
Lee said another way was through further enhancements in engineering control.
“It is being done now, but there still is room for improvement,” he told theSun.
“This can be combined with administrative measures like manned traffic control to reduce such risks.”
He said steps must also be taken to ensure that any measure, such as road closures or diversions, does not lead to traffic congestion.
“Other ways include putting stronger barriers and barricades, or restricting the movement of selected types of vehicles near a construction site,” Lee added.
He also urged authorities to use the full force of the law when deciding on such cases as occurrences of such negligence have been rampant, with innocent lives being put at risk.
Public confidence in construction safety must also be restored and the relevant parties must reassure the people.
Transport planning expert Rosli Azad Khan said the Malaysian Public Works Department, Malaysian Highway Authority as well as local authorities must rigorously review engineering designs and work plans, with more focus on safety aspects.
“There is supposed to be a comprehensive Traffic Management Plan (TMP) for every road under construction. How elaborate this traffic plan is depends on how much allocation of resources to safety aspects the contractor decides to allocate,” he said.
He also explained that relevant authorities must go down to the ground to inspect and ensure the work sites are safe prior to approving the TMP.
“Some authorities approve the TMP without undertaking any inspections or ground checks and only react when accidents happen.
“As construction goes on for two or three years, monthly reviews of the TMP and its renewal must be undertaken,” Rosli said.
He said a complete diversion from possible danger zones must be designed and implemented by the contractors as motorists should not be exposed to unnecessary risks.
MDS Consultancy Group associate consultant Mohammed Khaled Abdulwahab suggested tougher penalties such as fines and even blacklisting the contractors and developers who fail to comply with safety regulations.
“I believe it is the responsibility of the developer and contractor in the event of an accident as one of their main roles is to prevent accidents and to provide a safe environment not only for the workers but also for the public,” he added.