Workers surprised at outbreak as SOP observed on site

ALL is quiet at a construction site in Jalan Damanlela, Kuala Lumpur.

The workers and subcontractors sat outside the site, which has been cordoned off, hoping to hear positive updates on the situation there so that they can get back to work and get paid.

One of them was wall builder Zaeman Zainan, who turned up with a worker, to meet a site supervisor but was told that the wall building section was still on hold.

“I was here for two months before this. They had strict standard operating procedures (SOP) in place. It is puzzling how an outbreak can still occur, ” he said.

Two other subcontractors Mohd Fazizi Ishak and Nor Aiman Syahmi, who are with a sanitising company, were luckier as they had a task to perform.

“We just reported for work today. Our focus is on the workers’ dorms and offices.

“We will spray disinfectant in these areas. I was told that we will be here for a month and disinfecting exercises will be carried out daily at 9am for four hours, ” they elaborated.

On Nov 7, WCT Berhad, the main contractor for the project, announced that it would stop work at its construction site in Jalan Damanlela upon identifying 15 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among personnel.

Following the shutdown, 1,861 workers at the project site were immediately transferred to quarantine centres.

The project site is part of the Damanlela Construction Site Cluster that recorded 1,132 cases as of Nov 16.

The Health Ministry website showed that the cluster encompassed Lembah Pantai, Titiwangsa and Kepong.

Operations at the site resumed in stages starting Nov 14 with a new team of workers who tested negative and were free of infection.

A small team has been deployed to perform necessary housekeeping and maintenance works, including flood mitigation.

Supriyanto and Karsono, two general workers who were seen leaving the site to buy lunch from a nearby mobile truck, hoped to resume work as soon as possible.

“We are still getting our daily wage of RM55 a day though construction work has come to a halt. In this sense we are lucky, ” they said.

Supriyanto said SOP at the site had always been strict.

“Just look at me. I am wearing two masks for extra protection, ” he said.

Another general worker Karsono said hand washing and physical distancing were always observed as well.

“We believe the outbreak could have been caused by an outsider, ” he said.

Mobile truck operator Emrul Syahidul Reda Ibrahim, who has been trading along Jalan Damanlela for four years, said since the implementation of SOP following the movement control order, he observed that many workers had been compliant.

“I do not see them at the worksite but I know that during lunchtime, they do not come out in big groups so as to avoid crowding.

“Usually, one person will get the takeaways for five or six of their friends, ” said Emrul.

In a statement on Facebook, WCT Berhad said 15 personnel who tested positive for Covid-19 at the Jalan Damanlela site on Nov 7 did not display any symptoms and their temperatures were below 37.5ºC.

“Nevertheless, we will continue to undertake and implement high standards of safety precautions and measures to keep the site clean and ready for operations to curb infection.

“We will also continue to work closely with Health Ministry to provide a safe workplace for all the staff and workers, ” the statement added.

A Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) spokesperson said the situation would be monitored closely while sanitisation efforts were the landowner’s responsibility.

“DBKL only conducts sanitisation operations at public areas like roads and parks, ” he said.

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