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Bad start, bad ending

Nothing seems right for car park

BELOW is a summary of findings on the Penang Hill multi-storey car park by the Penang State Inquiry Board.

The weaknesses

> At the design stage, the approved plan by the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) did not comply with council guidelines requirements, namely the ramps’ gradient exceeded the requirement, the ramps turning radius was insufficient and there were traffic circulation conflicts. The project architect was responsible for these weaknesses.

> The tender drawing and plan were issued without approval.

> At the construction stage, physical commencement of work proceeded without the plan being approved, the documentation was not in order, the clerk-of-work was inexperienced, the dimension and design errors were identified but not rectified and the latest drawing was not transmitted to site for implementation.

Uphill task: The steep slope at the controversial 'Kancil car park'

Solution options

> To demolish, redesign, reconstruct the entire building; to localise demolition, redesign and reconstruct ramps only or to localise demolition on ramps only and replace with vehicular lifts.

> Carry out Actual Load Test for one to two months and install settlement markers to instil public confidence in the structure’s stability.


> Demolish, redesign and reconstruct the entire building to increase the number of parking lots from the existing 112 to more than 300 lots with split-level ramps.

> The new building can either be 18m (six floors with an estimated construction cost of RM7,500,000) or 24m (eight floors with an estimated construction cost of RM10,000,000) high.

> The demolition, redesign and reconstruction should take about 17 months to complete.

The Penang State Inquiry Board, comprising Penang chairman of the Malaysian Architects Association Lawrence Lim and Institute of Engineers Malaysia (northern branch) former chairman Lim Kok Khong, was headed by Prof Omar Munir from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar). A total of 10 stakeholders were interviewed by the board since it was formed on Sept 29 to investigate the controversial car park. The post of chairman of the board appeared to be as ‘controversial’ as the issue it was investigating.

Prof Omar was the third chairman to hold the post in just three weeks. Prof Omar, a surveyor, took over the chairmanship on Oct 12, less than a month after Universiti Teknologi Petronas Assoc Prof Dr Arazi Idrus’s resignation on Oct 6, apparently due to the ‘heavy workload’ involved. Before Dr Arazi, former state Public Works Department (PWD) director Shahawai Awang had stepped down as chairman following his appointment on Sept 22, apparently to avoid a conflict of interest.

The terms of reference for the board were to identify the weaknesses in the implementation of the project and determine those responsible or the weaknesses, propose actions to be taken, and provide an independent view-point for solutions to rectify the problems.

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