Can Samy Vellu guarantee that the RM1.9 billion SMART Tunnel will be trouble-free when it opens on Monday?

Public constructions and buildings have become a national scandal, with burst-pipes, collapsing ceilings, faulty air-conditioning systems in brand-new government buildings almost a daily shame.

As a result of we have the following two reports today:

  • “”I have spoken until my mouth is dry’ — PM tired of talking about Terengganu airport maintenance problem” (Sin Chew Daily).
  • “Judge loses his cool over faulty air-con” (New Straits Times).

The former referred to the cancellation of all night flights for two nights at the Sultan Mahmud Airport in Kuala Terengganu following a power glitch that caused the runway navigation lights to be switched off. The two-day closure affected six commercial flights and some 335 passengers were stranded on the first day. The Yang di Pertuan Agong and his entourage, who were to have left for Kuala Lumpur on Sunday night, were also grounded.

The latter referred to spanking new RM290 million largest court complex in the world in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur which has earned instant notoriety as the most mishap-prone public building — not only with collapsed ceiling, cracks on the walls, defective lift and toilet, and yesterday, High Court judge Datuk Mohamed Apandi Ali lost his cool with the frequent breakdown of the air-conditioning system in the new court complex as he was forced to postpone an appeal hearing.

A construction project manager with 30 years experience who inspected the court complex in Jalan Duta yesterday was of the view that it suffers from structural defects, contradicting the earlier claim by the Works Minister, Datuk Seri Datuk Seri Samy Vellu that the cracks were merely in the cement and that the “structural integrity of the building is not compromised”.

Clearly a completely independent study must be made as to whether the court complex suffers from structural defects.

With all these defects, the question uppermost in the minds of Malaysians is whether Samy Vellu can give an iron-clad guarantee that the RM1.9 billion SMART Tunnel will be completely trouble-free when it is open to traffic next Monday?

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 1:15 pm

    This is an excuse to now employ “external consultants” at hugely outrageous fees to come and examine the facilities. This is the usual procedure.

    As for the SMART tunnel, I have doubts about its safety and think water will soon seep though the walls of the tunnel and flood the vehicular tunnel with catastrophe consequences. Somehow or other, I just don’t trust Samy’s workers, his “consultants” and their workmanship.

    I for want wont use this tunnel if I can help it. Good luck to users.

  2. #2 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 1:25 pm

    There was a documentary on the SMART tunnel (Discovery Channel).
    The equipment looked impressive but I suppose the quality control on the concrete mixture and steel reinforcement is critical.

    I wonder what were the glitches that delayed the opening?
    As no info provided we should be quite wary about this tunnel.

    With the MRR2 the cracks could be spotted in the open but in a tunnel without ready access, the public is in no position to spot flaws.

    Think the Institute of Engineers should be given the task of checking out the structure and construction records.

  3. #3 by smeagroo on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 1:45 pm

    Any flaws in SMART will only surface just after the expiry of the warranty. They are very smart one. They calculated properly when the defects will gave way. ANyone from Ijok who can tell us if the roads tarred recently are still in good condition?

  4. #4 by Godfather on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 2:25 pm

    Semi Value to Kit: I will give you my 100 pct guarantee or I guarantee you I will lose all my hair.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 2:31 pm

    I would be careful about challenging Samy Vellu on any issue. SMART was build by Gamuda with German experts. Don’t be fooled by claim that its build by Malaysian. It should meet specs. It does sit on sink-hole prone area which may or may not cause problem at some point but for the medium term it should be fine.

    If Samy Vellu, counter with a larger brouhaha, it makes him look good only.

  6. #6 by Taiko on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 2:34 pm

    Off topic, I would like to say something about the news of pay rise for civil servants.

    I was heartened to hear it. The government has finally accede to the demand for pay rise, it seems. Then one fellow blogger highlighted the concern that those on top might get 50% increase while those at the bottom would only get 5%.

    As known, the government has not yet decided on the pay package! It could turn out to be an expedient excuse to enrich the cronies on the top level.

    I hope Kit would keep a close watch on this concern.

  7. #7 by anakbaram on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 3:21 pm

    Some people are born not to be trusted. Last general election the “honourable” minister cam to Miri for campaign. At a dialouge session he promised to take immediate action to surface the very important road linking Beluru to Lapo in the Baram District. But up to today, more than a year later nothing is done. As a Kenyah from this backwaters of Malaysia, I feel very angry about the attitude of these jokers towards my people. Baram is one are where timber, limestone and now oil palm are exploited to contribute to the national economy. But forgoten by development. So much for the politic of development.

  8. #8 by Winston on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 4:39 pm

    I, for one, feel that the so-called Smart Tunnel may turn out to be a death trap for our motorists.
    Although it may be built with German expertise, Malaysians will be running it and we all know how they do things.
    When there is heavy rain, the whole tunnel will be closed to vehicles to allow the complete tunnel to be used for channeling flood water. The problem is that this may be done BEFORE all vehicles are cleared from the tunnel, leaving some motorists to drown like rats!
    Don’t say that you’ve not been fore warned!

  9. #9 by achia3 on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 4:50 pm

    There is no need for foreign consultants to be engaged as Local engineers enlisted with BEM and IEM are well qualified to assess the damage.

    If they want to pay top dollars pay it our local engineers.

    Just make sure this local engineers from the local consultants are not tied to the cronies.

    I can give a few names if you need one.

  10. #10 by achia3 on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 4:55 pm

    Winston… not sure if you are aware that the Smart Tunnel is a dual purpose tunnel. Drain at the bottom half, highway on the top.

  11. #11 by ihavesomethingtosay on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 4:57 pm

    There was a documentary on the SMART tunnel (Discovery Channel). – HJ Angus Says:

    Perharps there will be another documentary on the Discovery channel when the tunnel collapse, footage, SEMI-VALUED looking towards the sky with this sweaty palms stretch skywards shouting “God, Vy another?” inreference to his “act of God?”


  12. #12 by Tai Lo Chin on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:03 pm

    The RM1.9bil Smart tunnel was touted by Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general Datuk Keizrul Abdullah as being able to withstand earthquakes or tremors.

    Judging from what happened in Sultan Mahmud Airport in Kuala Terengganu and the largest court complex in the world in Jalan Duta, the glitches if any would happen where one least expects.
    The water-tight gates are installed at either end of the highway tunnel to separate the highway from the storm water tunnel for the safety of the highway users.

    The first line of protection against water entering the road tunnel is an emergency gate at each end. There will be five gates at either end of the highway: two floodgates, two road gates, and an emergency gate. The main worry is where the workings of any one or more of these gates get faulty.

    The other are the ventilation/escape shafts at 1km intervals with air ventilators will constantly renew the air and maintain the air quality within the highway. To protect the ventilation system during flooding, the system consists of a series of shafts each containing an exhaust and fresh air injector. Tunnel is equipped with fire-fighting equipment, telephone, over 200 CCTVs and surveillance at 1km intervals along the highway tunnel. The danger is what happens if whether due to an accident or other reasons a car burst into flames in the middle of the tunnel. Can fire-fighting equipment deal with the spreading fire and lethal smoke?

    It is not earthquakes or tremors we’re afraid but water and fire. What can Samy guarantee? Will he be around when these perils happen?

  13. #13 by Vortex on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:03 pm

    Lets make a comparison

    Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to non-violence and truth even in the most extreme situations. A student of Hindu philosophy, he lived simply, organizing an ashram that was self-sufficient in its needs. Making his own clothes — the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl woven with a charkha, he lived on a simple vegetarian diet. He used rigorous fasts, for long periods, for both self-purification and protest. Gandhi’s life and teachings inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Biko and Aung San Suu Kyi and through them the American civil rights movement and the freedom struggles in South Africa and Myanmar respectively.

    lets look at SAMY VELLU
    – Works minister
    – Many crap buildings and bridges
    – Alot of stories of him being gangster (true?), corrupt and a pariah

    nothing compared to gandhi (well shouldn’t even have to compared him with one of the greats of our time).

  14. #14 by toyolbuster on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:09 pm

    “”I have spoken until my mouth is dry’ – PM tired of talking about Terengganu airport maintenance problem”

    Sorry Typo error, it should read ” I have snored until my mouth is dry”

  15. #15 by toyolbuster on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:15 pm

    Where there is a Semi Velue, there are cracks, creaks, crooks and cronys. Where there is a Semi Velue, there are also drips, digs, dicks, dogs and donkeys.

  16. #16 by pwcheng on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:45 pm

    Incidentally as Taiko had mentioned something about payrise, you can be sure this is a prelude to their own payrise where the Pm will have the most hefty rise followed by all those in the cabinets, MPs and top govt servants. They will definitely try to draw a comparison with Singapore. That is already on the drawing board, the only question is the timing.

    I would speculate that the civil servants adjustment will come just before the GE and they will reward themselves soon after the GE. Isn’t that a beautiful strategy. That is why the opposition will always find it a tough because they have the power to “bribe” legally just before election and get bribed after election. Payment for bribery is money from the rakyat but payment as bribery is only for their pockets.

    To me the most sickening thing is he never step his foot down and made the civil servants promised that they will improve on their services. They always give the carrots but hide the sticks. Until doomsday the civil service will never improve.

  17. #17 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:50 pm

    That is possible but quite remote.
    I would expect the operating procedures would be the top end would be shut first and then the operator is required to physically drive to the other end to ensure the tunnel is cleared.

    Since KL is known to be in a zone with large limestone deposits, the Smart Tunnel could be traversing some areas with large underground caves which are unstable.

    Now with the earthquake zones shifting, the tunnel must be able to cope with underground changes.

    Does anyone know what were the technical glitches?

  18. #18 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 5:59 pm

    The SMART tunnel project was conceived before or after the LRT station was built into the river bank reserve near the Masjid Jamek station.

    The whole river is blocked by the construction of the station at least 5 meters below the bund. Now basic drainage would suggest the river will not flow properly during heavy rain and of course KL suffered a heavy flood after that.

    What bothers me is that to rectify this problem would have required perhaps RM10m to build a new station perhaps elevated rails at street level but NO, they simply had to create this SMART tunnel RM1billion plus project to solve ALL of KL’s flood problems.

    It kind of reminds me why Bush went to war on Iraq – even now they have not uncovered the weapons of mass destruction.

  19. #19 by pwcheng on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 6:24 pm

    I do not see the difference whether Samy Vellu is willing to give a guarantee or not. Even if he says it is perfectly safe, the risk is yours if you want to use the tunnel. The most he will say it is an act of god should any untoward incident happen. How many ordinary citizens can afford to take them to court and even then the judgment might end up like the Highland towers where the government is absolved from any responsibilities. The law is always on their side.
    Take for instance the police, if you commit a wrong doing they will fine you but if they were to commit a wrong doing you will still have to pay for their mistakes. This was my personal experience when I was wrongly summoned for a speeding offense near JB. It put me to so much inconveniences having to go to Bukit Aman and was told to go to JB to get the Photograph as proof. And finally when I proof that they are wrong what remedy do I have to mitigate my losses in term of money, time and all the inconveniences that I have to undergo.

    It is the same with the income tax dept. When you are late by one day in submission they will fine you but when they are late by 2 years in refunding we can only slogged it out with them without any remedy for late payment.

    I see that many of the laws are unfriendly towards a good citizen. To me I think we will have to use the tunnel at our own risk. That is why if you have a corrupted govt. the risk is always greater in every aspect of lives. Investors knows this and they will shun such countries.

  20. #20 by Zeebra on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 6:45 pm

    Very well said everyone. I just wanted to add, without PROPER maintainance, the “smart” tunnel will be a HUGE BIG LONGKANG filled with S.H.I.T.

  21. #21 by ihavesomethingtosay on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 7:06 pm

    “I have spoken until my mouth is dry’ – PM tired of talking about Terengganu airport maintenance problem” – PM

    Why mr PM, in any private organisation, the boss would have said long ago before his mouth “IS” dry would be : you don’t have to report to work starting from tomorrow.

    If works minister is another Napolean of yours, just sack him and hold another BUY ELECTION, simple solution don’t you think?

    and If you can’t ask him to leave, perharps you’re too wek to lead the country; maybe you should leave.

  22. #22 by sammyvellu on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 7:51 pm

    My unker say Smart Tunnel is built by Chinaman company Gamuda wor. Nothing to do with Ministry of Works mah!

  23. #23 by raven77 on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 7:55 pm

    Did we need this tunnel? A nation of 25 million with so much land, why complicate ourselves when there is so much land to plan and spread out development. A project designed from the outstart to cheat people off their hard-earned money will suffer the wrath of GOD…history has proven that repeatedly and it is only a matter of time…..God save the people who will have to use this tunnel..

  24. #24 by k1980 on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 8:01 pm

    Forget about the stupid tunnel– the earth is going to open up. The 10-year cycle of financial crises is coming

    The historical pattern of a 10-year rhythm of cyclical financial crises looms as a menacing storm cloud over the financial markets. The 30% US market crash of 1987, in which investors lost 10% of 1987 GDP, was set off by the 1985 Plaza Accord to push down the Japanese yen with an aim of reducing the growing US trade deficit with Japan. The 1987 crash was followed 10 years later by the Asian financial crisis of July 2, 1997, with all Asian economies going broke, and some stock markets such as Thailand’s losing 75% of their value…Now in 2007, a looming debt-driven financial crisis threatens to put an end to the decade-long liquidity boom…


  25. #25 by atrulymalaysian on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 8:57 pm

    off topic….can someone enlighten on the thickness of fire rated wall for housing project. I was shocked to learn and felt cheated that our authorities have no qualm to “revise” or reduce the thickness of the partition wall (from 9″ to 4.5″) of common clay brick wall. Is this another form of corruption or collaboration with the developers?

  26. #26 by muscaa on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 9:17 pm

    See how samy vellu shouted in parliament:

  27. #27 by goldenscreen on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 9:23 pm

    The general election will be held in August I believe. Why? Because teachers in a school that has been selected as a polling center told someone who told me that they are required to attend a meeting at the end of July regarding the election ie to select teachers to work at the polls center during election time.

    So the payrise to civil servants will be the prelude to a general election. Expect more goodies soon from Barisan Nasional!

  28. #28 by digard on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 9:30 pm

    As sad as it is, there is a reason to bring in foreign consultants. If you take local ones, they might be biased / bought; and therefore useless. If they are genuinely unbiased, the general public still won’t trust them, because they can’t be sure. The public doesn’t know.
    When you bring in Mat Sallehs, however, people will not assume that foreigners are preoccupied with crony or racial policies. Then the outcome of the work will be widely accepted.

  29. #29 by sims on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 10:49 pm

    Sure bor next Monday open? Samy been talking about it since last year. I wonder if the delays were cause by defects. I won’t be using it anyway, not for feat it collapse but it’s not convenient to me.

  30. #30 by bbtan on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 10:52 pm

    It is not smart building the SMART tunnel because:
    1. It is cheaper to build a separate roadway and flood water tunnel,
    2. Both the separate roadway and water tunnel would have been in operation many moons ago,
    3. The SMART roadway cannot be used when it matters most – during the jam when it rains,
    4. The unSMART tunnel would be easier and cheaper to maintain.

  31. #31 by Jonny on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 10:55 pm

    Yes, buy the shares now. Move in fast. Reap the rewards before the 10th year cycle economy cycle happens and shit falls.

    Perhaps the govt is praying it won’t happen before or during the General Election.

    In anycase, the more reason they should have it much earlier during the false security created by the carry trades.

    For me, I’m staying out. No way. Look at the big boys are also taking their companies private. More to come.

  32. #32 by naked taliban on Tuesday, 8 May 2007 - 11:59 pm

    As per comment by HJ Angus at 5.59 pm
    I disagree , Kuala Lumpur in malay language is muddy estuary, named by early settlers more than 100 years ago, an area prone to flooding. Smart Tunnel is located many kilometers away from Masjid Jamek station , my friend its a fact.

  33. #33 by pwcheng on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - 12:12 am

    His mouth is dry and so is his head. He keeps on talking about maintenance when everybody knows the root of the problem is somewhere else. He must be trying to cover some dirty tracks if his cerebrum is not dysfunctional.

  34. #34 by accountability on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - 6:03 am

    i’m definitely NOT going to use the SMART tunnel… it obviously suffers from the same extremely poor quality and non-existent safety approvals

    i advise all to boycott the tunnel which cost the rakyat so much
    (i’m sure most of the costs went into BN cronies’ pockets)

  35. #35 by gianthunk on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - 11:54 am

    Tail Lo Chin seemed to understand on technical aspect of the tunnel but One thing everyone should know the ventilation system (smoke spill or non smoke spill) has been “reengineered” to save cost?

  36. #36 by HJ Angus on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - 1:44 pm

    I wonder why it was decided to reengineer the ventilation systems.
    It seems that it creates another way for things to go wrong and for such a critical design, Murphy’s Law applies.

    As for the entrance being miles away from the Masjid Jamek station, I agree to that but the Smart Tunnel is to divert water away from the KL centre whose flood profile had increased dramatically after the LRT station was built smack inside the river.

    Surely a failure of elementary drainage with disastrous consequences?

    I lived in KL from 1971 to 1988 and during those years I can recall being affected by floods perhaps on the fingers of one hand and with delays of not more than an hour. Nowadays I think the Klang valley residents “enjoy” floods 2 or 3 times a year.

  37. #37 by Jimm on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - 3:15 pm

    Well, the tunnel is going to be there from now on. The concessiories company going to operate it no matter how. The Government will be annoucing that they will be compensating the company “again”. So, use or don’t use , never mind one la ..
    Those ‘chosen ones’ are laughing their way to perfect holidays and asset acquisition overseas. ..
    Malaysia Boleh ..

  38. #38 by Jimm on Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - 3:17 pm

    Anyway, Anyhow, The Tunnel will be there and someone is going to laugh his way to the bank. So, SV will annouce that BN Government will be compensating this company “some small amount” to justify their involvement in building and maintaining the Tunnel… This tunnel is another source of ‘income’ to those ‘lucky ones’.

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