Underperforming contractors to face axe, says Sarawak Premier, 34 state projects critically delayed

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg (second right) opening the seminar on new initiatives to enhance Sarawak’s construction industry in Kuching.

KUCHING: Errant or incompetent contractors unable to complete state government projects satisfactorily will no longer be tolerated, says Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the present status of project implementation reported by the state Public Works Department (JKR) was of "great concern", with 34 projects critically delayed as of Jan 27.

In addition, 29 projects were late, while 149 projects were on schedule.

"After being briefed by the respective implementing agencies, I noticed that there are many issues and challenges encountered on the ground, including the contractors' lack of commitment and poor performance," he said when opening a seminar on new initiatives to enhance Sarawak's construction industry here on Wednesday (Feb 8).

Abang Johari highlighted five projects which had been delayed for one to three years due to contractor problems.

They included the construction of the Limbang Development Museum and Historical Gallery, which was facing a year's delay; the upgrading of five roundabouts along the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway (delayed for two years); and the proposed Marudi Bridge over the Baram River in Miri division (delayed for about three years).

"I was there to present the contract (for the roundabout upgrading project). After that there was no construction.

"We found out that it was passed to another contractor and the whole project became a problem," Abang Johari said, adding that another contractor had to be brought in.

He said it was important for projects to be implemented properly as the state JKR was now recognised as a technical department by the Federal Government.

Additionally, he said the Federal Government had given the state the authority to implement projects worth below RM50mil.

"The implementation has to be there now that we have been given this authority.

"That's why we need to work together, especially the bumiputra contractors who are given the job, please do it," he said.

Abang Johari said the state JKR had introduced more stringent evaluation criteria to sieve out incompetent and irresponsible contractors.

He said the state government had also approved new initiatives to assist contractors, including advance payment for works contracts, allowing up to three payments to be made without the contract documents in the first four months of the contract period, lowering the rate of liquidated and ascertained damages, and extension of time for projects with at least 60% progress based on the works schedule.

"These are measures effected to minimise or even eradicate critically delayed projects, to assist contractors' project cash flow as well as to achieve a win-win situation for all parties under Sarawak government contracts," he said.

Abang Johari also called on contractors to work with universities on internship schemes as a way to address any manpower shortage.

"While the students gain experience, you can enhance your human resources," he said.

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