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Tuesday May 28, 2013

MRT at 14% completion

<b>Modern:</b> Azhar showing the finalised train design at the media briefing. Modern: Azhar showing the finalised train design at the media briefing.

THE construction of the first line of Klang Valley My Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line will be entering the next phase next month when the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) is put to work in Jalan Cochrane, Kuala Lumpur.

Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd project director Marcus Karakashian said the assembly of the machine was almost completed in the Cochrane Launch Shaft, which was excavated to a depth of 30m as part of preparatory works.

During a media briefing on the MRT, Karakashian said about 120,000 cubic metres of soil and rock had to be excavated to create the shaft, which was equivalent to the volume of 50 Olympic-size swimming pools.

“The TBM is the first variable density machine in the world designed to handle the karstic limestone conditions found in the eastern part of Kuala Lumpur.

“The excavation work will begin from Jalan Cochrane towards Pasar Rakyat station (over 1km) and is expected to be completed by mid-2014,” said Karakashian, adding that tunnelling work would be carried out round the clock.

He said another TBM was being assembled at the Semantan Portal site at Jalan Duta. This is an Earth Pressure Balance TBM, which will be used to excavate the more consistent geological formation found in Kenny Hill, the western part of Kuala Lumpur.

“From the Semantan Portal site, the TBM is expected to make its way under Jalan Damansara to the future KL Sentral MRT station in front of Muzium Negara.

“Excavation will go on under Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, past the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station to the future Pasar Seni MRT station, a distance of 2.7km,” said Karakashian.

<b>Work in progress:</b> An overview of the
Semantan Portal site in Jalan Duta. Work in progress: An overview of the Semantan Portal site in Jalan Duta.

There will be a total of 10 TBMs, which will be paired to excavate specific stretches of the underground alignment.

On key achievements to-date, Karakashian said all civil works, both elevated and underground as well as systems contract, had been awarded.

“There are still remaining contracts for eight multi-storey carparks (two of which have been awarded) and other works for signage, lighting and furniture,” he said.

In addition, the construction of all seven underground stations were on-going.

On the construction of piers, Karakashian said 15 of the total 1.400 piers to be built under the project had been constructed on Contracts Viaduct 5 and Viaduct 6.

He added that the installation of the first launching gantry at Bandar Tun Hussein Onn had been completed. The gantry, he explained, would be used to lift the segmented box girders (SBGs) into place, which would be lifted on piers to form a one-piece viaduct.

The second gantry installation is in progress at Sri Sabah Flats in Cheras. Along with that, he said the construction of both Sungai Buloh depot and Kajang depot were in progress.

The train design has also been finalised and a mock-up will be ready for media preview soon.

Overall progress of the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line is 14%.

<b>Step-by-step:</b> The launching gantry will be used to lift the segmented box
girders into place, which will be lifted on
piers to form a one-piece viaduct. Step-by-step: The launching gantry will be used to lift the segmented box girders into place, which will be lifted on piers to form a one-piece viaduct.

MRT Corp chief executive officer Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid said as at end of April, MRT Corp had awarded 64 out of a total of 87 work packages, with four packages currently in the tender process. The awarded contracts are worth RM20.77bil.

“We want to ensure the work timeline is the shortest. People are generally unhappy with the closure of the slip road at the end of Jalan Maarof, but this will be resolved when it is opened in two months’ time,” said Azhar, assuring that MRT was committed to ensuring the impact of construction was minimised.

On the project’s impact on Medan Damansara residents, Azhar clarified that safety had been given top priority since the project started in 2011.

“We are strengthening the slope behind the houses in Medan Daman-sara to safeguard the properties before actual work starts on the viaduct,” said Azhar.

He added that Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd — MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang operator — was tasked to ensure other security issues.

“Just like the current LRT services offered by Prasarana, features such as lighting, CCTV and patrolling by security guards will be implemented,” said Azhar, adding that safety of the public, especially that of women using the ‘park-and-ride’ facilities would be its priority as well.

Azhar said among the main challenges faced included managing impact of construction work on traffic, residents and business operations near construction sites.

“Traffic management plans, which are approved by the authorities, have been implemented to ensure the impact on traffic flow is minimised.

“This includes ensuring all detours or realignment of roads maintain the same number of lanes as the original road and lane closures on busy roads only take place during off-peak periods,” said Azhar, adding that installing signage to warn motorists and pedestrians were part of the plan.

In addition, MRT Corp’s contractors had to ensure that noise and dust levels were within the permitted range set by the Environment Department.

Azhar said once the project was completed in December 2016, accessibility to the stations was a major concern.

“This is where the feeder bus system comes in. Prasarana will implement a feeder bus network when the MRT starts operating. This will serve residential areas located near stations,” he added.

Azhar said another priority was ensuring the train service was modern.

“Commuters want to stay connected. In view of this, the facilities provided include WiFi services on trains and stations and user-friendly ticketing systems,” he said, adding that the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line would integrate fully with the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT lines as well as the monorail, where users can change lines without having to buy new tickets or walk through different sets of fare-gates.

Azhar said they anticipated that the move to bring in quite a number of foreign workers for the project would give rise to social issues.

“In the past, civil contractors house workers in the cheapest accommodation possible and more often, they end up living with residents in low-cost housing areas, which is not healthy. This affects the environment and major social issues arise, particularly crime.

“MRT is providing centralised labour quarters for its foreign workers,” he said, adding that the foreign workers include those from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and India.

“The living quarters come with cabins, which are equipped with three double-bunk beds, fans and a wardrobe for each worker.

“There is also a cafeteria which provides two meals a day and a centralised kitchen for those who wish to prepare their own food, apart from a futsal court, a clinic and shops,” said Azhar.

He added that the labour quarters in Cheras and Sungai Buloh were fully operational, while two more in Jalan Cochrane and Kajang were under construction.

He said various government agencies had praised the company for setting a new standard in housing for construction workers.

“Movement in and out of the quarters is being monitored by ex-army and police personnel. Every worker entering the quarters will have to go through a face recognition system and pass scanner,” he said, adding that visitors were given temporary access cards.

Also, the workers were taken to the work sites by bus on a daily basis.

Azhar said the quarters would also be used to house workers for the MRT Lines II and III.

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