Penang govt apologises to those affected by debris from Air Itam bypass blasting works

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has apologised to those affected by the debris from blasting works at the Air Itam bypass project.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said he was sorry to the residents of the condominiums for the damage caused.

“We apologise to the residents for the damage caused.

“The contractor will bear full responsibility for the incident.

"They are currently identifying the owners of the vehicles involved," he said during a press conference held at his office in Komtar on Thursday (April 18).

Two condominiums in Island Park here, located next to the under-construction RM850mil Air Itam bypass, were damaged by debris from blasting works at the worksite.

Flying debris and soil from the blasting works caused damage to rooftops in the condominium, including a swimming pool and barbecue areas as well as several parked vehicles.

Chow said the contractor has been cautioned to be extra careful when carrying out blasting works in future.

He said since work for the bypass started in January 2022, a total of 600 rock blasts had been conducted.

"While it (the blasting) has been carried out 600 times prior to this without an issue, something like this should not happen, even once.

"Steps are being taken by the project director to ensure it does not occur again.

“One time is bad enough and I want the project director and contractor to prevent similar incidents from recurring in the future.

"There are expected to be another 200 scheduled blasts until the project is completed," he said.

Penang Infrastructure Corporation (PIC) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said the controlled blasting works was conducted in accordance with standardised procedures.

"The blasting works to break down boulders along the project site started in January 2022.

"The contractor will be implementing safety measures to prevent another incident during future blasting works.

"They will be reducing the drilling depth and the weight of the explosives to reduce the projection of the explosives.

"The layers of ground cover, wire mesh, geotextile and sandbags will be increased to cover a larger area," he said.

The construction of the Package Two bypass connecting Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway reached the 42% completion stage in January this year.

The RM851.04mil project is expected to reduce the current 40-minute drive between Bandar Baru Air Itam and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway to under 10 minutes.

Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd is the design and build contractor, while Penang Infrastructure Corporation is the implementing agency for the project.

Package Two comprises three interchanges – Interchange One (at Lebuhraya Thean Teik), Interchange Two (Jalan Bukit Gambir-Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah) and Interchange Three (at Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway) which will involve a left in-left out junction and an elevated U-turn.

Other project scopes include upgrading and improving the drainage system, upgrading existing roads in the project area and utility relocation work.

The project is tentatively scheduled for completion next year.

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