Saturday, October 31, 2020

Sarawak company bosses arrested over RM800 million road projects

Some of the roads cannot be used and sustained damage just months after being built.

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Two company directors in Sarawak have been arrested on suspicion of corruption and for submitting false claims worth tens of millions of ringgit in connection with the implementation of 10 road upgrading projects under the defence ministry in the state worth some RM800 million.

A source from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said the two directors, both aged 44, were partners who owned three companies that monopolised the related projects. They were detained in a special operation in Kuching.

“The road construction project which connects several small towns in Sarawak was called ‘Projek Jiwa Murni’ under the ministry concerned, and it was awarded to the company from 2010 to 2016.

“Many complaints were received from the local community regarding the bad road conditions due to the quality of construction that did not meet specifications,” the source told Bernama.

According to the source, some of the roads could not be used and were damaged several months after being built. The areas involved are Miri, Kapit, Ba’kelalan, Limbang and Belaga.

“Technical studies found that these roads do not meet the road construction standards set by the Public Works Department (JKR) at all. In fact, these roads are only paved with a layer of tar which is estimated to be just two inches thick on the ground surface.

“There is no layer of gravel and sand as stipulated in the terms of the contract. This causes the roads used by heavy vehicles including timber lorries to be easily damaged, and they cannot be used by light vehicles as a connecting road in the interior,” said the source.

The source said the Sarawak government had instructed the state JKR to repair and upgrade the roads due to the contractor’s failure to carry out the project.

“This has caused the cost of repairing the road to multiply, and the leakage has caused the state government to suffer hundreds of millions of ringgit in losses.”

Even so, the source said, of the four new contractors appointed by Sarawak JKR, one was suspected to be owned by the directors in question.

According to the source, companies under the purview of the ministry should be blacklisted from obtaining further projects after failing to implement the project given.

“They should be held accountable and have action taken against them, but despite what happened, they were given another project using the name of a different company.

“Both directors of this company will be brought before the Kuching Magistrate’s Court for a remand application under Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” said the source.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya confirmed the arrest of the suspects.

He said the investigation into the case was done in collaboration with the defence ministry after the ministry’s internal audit report showed the failure of the project.

Khusairi said the investigation was conducted under Sections 16 (b), 17 (a) and 18 of the MACC Act 2009.

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