02 June 2007

Probe into safety of ministry building


Investigations are being carried out to ascertain whether the width of the joint on the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry building has exceeded the limit allowed.

PUTRAJAYA: Is the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry building in Precinct 4 here safe?

This is the burning question in the wake of the widening of the expansion joint of the structure.

Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, eager to know if the matter was serious, chaired a meeting yesterday with the contractor, consultant and representatives of the Public Works Department.

A source told the New Straits Times that Putrajaya Holdings, the master developer of the federal administrative capital, and the contractor (WCT Engineering Berhad) were still responsible for repairs to the building although the liability period expired about two months ago.

"The PWD will only issue the certificate of making good defects (CMGD) once the contractor has repaired the defects. Otherwise, the company will be blacklisted." Earth movements had caused the expansion joint to "move" with the width becoming bigger, the source said.

The expansion joint divides the 15-storey building into two sections.

"This building is about 200m long. Therefore, the expansion joint is required as a normal structural design to allow for certain movements.

"Investigations will determine whether its width has exceeded the size of the tolerance limit allowed. An earlier report showed that it had reached the maximum."

The source, however, did not want to disclose the maximum width, stating that the contractor had pledged to submit a report to the minister and the PWD within one month.

During the meeting, the consultant assured the minister that the building was safe for occupation and that there was no cause for alarm.

"They will also come up with a proposal to fill up the cracks. This is a normal process to cover the joint."

The contractor will be appointing a third-party consultant to investigate the defects further.

The widening of the joint caused cracks to develop at certain portions of the building.

This includes the fourth floor which houses the Domestic Trade and the Consumer Affairs division and the Domestic Trade Division.

This is the latest in a series of mishaps which have occurred in new government buildings such as burst pipes, cracks on the walls, a malfunctioning air-conditioning system and a power outage.

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