Bypass firm ordered to stop work

A snag on the road: The project is scheduled for completion next year. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The design-and-build contractor for the Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass (Package Two) has been slapped with a stop-work order.

Penang infrastructure, transport and digital committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) issued the order to Consortium Zenith Construction (CZC) Sdn Bhd for failing to comply with the guidelines.

“The stop-work order was issued today (yesterday) because the project developer kept working on public holidays.

“They were supposed to do only mitigation work at the construction site, but they did more than that,” he said yesterday.

In a notice by MBPP sighted by The Star, the local authority said work on the stretch between Thean Teik Highway and Changkat Tembaga of the project was ordered to stop after it was satisfied there was “existence of nuisance” from the construction work on the infrastructure.

The developer has been reminded that construction work is permitted only between 8am and 8pm from Monday to Saturday but not on Sundays and public holidays.

The notice stated that only mitigation work is allowed with the permission of the MBPP if the council found that the site conditions posed a danger to the public.

“Any deviation from these regulations will be met with strict enforcement action, including potential fines and work stoppage,” it said, adding that the stop-work order has been issued under Section 82 of the Local Government Act 1976.

It is uncertain how long the order will last.

On Tuesday, Seri Delima assemblyman Connie Tan released a statement expresing her disappointment with CZC for the “constant nuisance” its workers were causing to the community.

She said despite numerous attempts to engage with the developer for better coordination and updates, their requests had been met with inaction.

CZC, she added, had been carrying out construction work beyond permissible hours.

She said construction activities were extended until 12.30am on Monday, depriving residents of their well-deserved rest.

Tan also claimed that there were incidents of the construction work at the site having caused damage to nearby condominiums and resulting in muddy floods, further distressing residents.

She also urged the project developer to immediately cease all overtime construction activities and strictly adhere to the prescribed working hours.

Tan said emergency mitigation work was not an excuse and there were methods and schedules that could be adopted to ensure both safety and minimal disturbance.

She also urged the Penang Infrastructure Corporation to enhance its monitoring system for construction projects and ensure strict compliance with regulations.

The state government, she added, must prioritise the welfare of its citizens and take decisive action against any entity that jeopardised their safety and comfort.

Last month, two condominium blocks in Island Park here, located next to the under-construction RM850mil Air Itam bypass, were damaged by debris from blasting works at the site.

In the incident, soil and debris flew into the condominium compound, damaging property and several vehicles. No one was injured.

The construction work has also affected several houses nearby, especially when it rained, as the residue from the work site would flow into the compound of the neighbourhood.

When it is completed, the project is set to shorten the current 40-minute drive between the densely populated Bandar Baru Air Itam and the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway to under 10 minutes.

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

The scope of the plan also includes upgrading the drainage system and existing roads in the project area and utility relocation work.

The project is scheduled for completion next year.

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