Penang is requesting the federal government to conduct an urgent safety audit on the second Penang Bridge after learning that the Yangmingtan Bridge in Harbin City, China, that collapsed on Friday shared the same contractor.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he would instruct state transportation and public utilities committee chairman Lim Hock Seng to send a request to the Works Ministry to expedite the study.
“We also request that a progress report be forwarded to us as soon as possible. This audit has to be done independently by experts because it is an issue of life and death,” he said.
Lim made the call after Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San pointed out that China Communications and Construction Co Ltd (CHEC) built the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge.
CHEC is the parent company of China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd, which is in a joint-venture with UEM Builders Sdn Bhd to build the Penang bridge from Batu Kawan to Batu Maung.
On Friday, the nine-month-old Yangmingtan Bridge built across Songhua River collapsed when a 100m-long ramp section tilted to the side and collapsed, killing three people and injuring five others.
Lim said a visit to the second Penang bridge site would be conducted to assess the progress and for a briefing on the safety aspects.
Speaking to reporters after launching the fifth Tourism Promotion Organisation for Asia Pacific Forum 2012 bus advertising campaign, Lim also asked that the contractor provide a progress report soon.
“We hope the federal government would also make a site visit,” he said. Lim said the bridge was a federal project and it was imperative that an immediate safety audit was conducted to quell public fear.
Asked if the state could launch its own independent audit, he said that would be redundant.
However, if the results were unsatisfactory, the state would appoint independent auditors to carry out another study after obtaining the federal government’s nod to do so.
Construction of the second Penang bridge, spanning 24km, began in November 2008 following several delays because of land acquisition problems, design and increased cost of construction.
Forming the third link between the mainland and the island, the RM3 billion bridge would be the longest bridge in Southeast Asia.
It is presently 80 per cent complete and is scheduled to be ready in September next year. – The Malay Mail