BUILD FIRST AND PLAN LATER


A great deal has been written about the scandal on the development of the Port Klang Free Zone(PKFZ) where the Government is the Employer. The saga started sometime in the year of 2002. From news reports it is known that a sale and purchase agreement was signed on the 12th. day of November 2002. It was between the Port Klang Authority(PKA) and a company known as Kuala Lumpur Sdn. Bhd.(KDSB) The translation of the words “ Kuala Lumpur” in English would mean “ Muddy River.” What an appropriate name for the company which in English would be “ Muddy River Private Limited.”

It has also been reported that this was a closed tender project embarked upon by the Government. If that was the case the Government under the terms of reference in Construction Law would be referred to as the “Employer” and KDSB would in all probabilities be referred to as the “Main Contractor(MC)”

The original cost for the setting up of the free zone was RM 1.845 billion. However, when this scandal first came into the open in 2007  Shahril Abdul Samad the head of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee(PAC) held a meeting with the Port Klang Authority(PKA). The PAC found that there were huge cost overruns of up to RM4.6billion. Then the show began to play and till to date has not ended. But the current estimate of the cost overruns is at over RM 12 billion.

Conventionally, and it is only prudent that the Employer would have issued to the MC a letter of Offer and it is only prudent to expect the MC to have submitted a “document” which is referred to as the “Estimates.” And upon the estimates being agreed upon by the Employer, they would issue a Letter enclosing the Tender Documents. Thereafter the Employer and the MD would have entered into a Building Contract usually referred to as the “Conditions of Contract” which would also contain a considerable section referred to as the “Bill of Quantities.”

Taking the scope and the size of this project, we can see how large it is. The Employer would also have engaged several other persons which would include the Architect, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors and Consultants who are engaged for Special Purposes. No doubt the role played by the Consultants, are more often than not imprecisely defined in the contract.

Whilst, the Architect has an overall responsibility for the completion of the project, the Consultants role would be confined to design and supervision of those parts of the project works which would come within their special expertise.

With all these highly trained professionals being engaged, what actually went wrong?

What was the Port Klang Authority Doing?

Who “Certified” as correct the progress claims that were submitted for payment, and authorized the payment?

How is it that the Finance Minister was not aware of the cost overruns?

In all construction projects “Mathematics” is involved from the starting point of submitting the estimates to the completion of the project. Mathematics would include Arithmetic and Analysis, Geometry and other dynamics in the required field of science, for the project, to be successfully completed.  Therefore the use of Mathematics in its “TRUE” sense would have a least produced the answers so far as to determine the cost of the whole project to fall within certain fundamentals and notions of logic.

That is why the duties and responsibilities of the Architect amongst other mattes, would be, to prepare the plans, drawings and the specifications, the contract documents, the Bill of Quantities and generally to supervise the execution and completion  of all the works and to ensure that the works are completed in accordance with the specifications, for and on behalf of the Employer.

The Architect plays a crucial role in any project as he has to ensure that the works are completed in accordance with the provisions and the stipulated terms of the contract. To ensure that all works are carried out in accordance with the plans, drawings and specifications of the project, for which he would have the services of Consultant(s), Engineer(s) and Quantity Surveyor(s).

From the start of any project the role played by the Consultant Engineers such as the structural engineer or the mechanical engineer or the electrical engineer would be rather limited in nature. This is owing to the fact that their professional knowledge and assistance would only be sought when the progress of work requires their opinion, for drawing a conclusion as to whether the completed work is in accordance with the specifications of the contract, which comes within the preview of their special area of expertise.

Now, having had noted the roles and responsibilities of the various professional actors, it is time to deal with the progress claims that are submitted by the various contractors. In all construction projects, there would be a Committee that would be constituted to verify and approve progress claims that are submitted for payment to be processed.

The committee would normally constitute the Employer’s site representative, the Consultant’s representative, the Architect’s representative and the Quantity Surveyor.

The contractor will prepare and present his progress claim. It would only be normal and as required and expected that the committee would have to make a site visits with the contractors to determine that the progress claims made, are in order. Most often than not in large projects of this nature, which involves public funds, site visits are generally carried out to determine the stage of the works that have been completed to ascertain that such works have been carried out in accordance with the specifications and the Bill of Quantities.

If the progress verification is approved and it is in compliance with the contract, it would be approved for payment to be made. If it is not approved, the progress claim will be returned to the contractor for corrections or rectification works to be carried out and the contractor would have to re-submit his claim for a further review.

No doubt there may arise, situations for variation orders to be issued for certain adjustments to be made to the initial specifications. This may increase the determined project cost.

If the rectification is approved, it will be handed over to the contractor who is present at the meeting. He would then have to proceed to submit the approval, according to the set procedure to secure his payment.

Based on the above stated procedure, which is an established practice in all construction projects, and if the Architect and the other actors had strictly adhered to the plans, drawings and the specifications, no buildings will collapse by itself nor would there have been such astronomical and huge cost overruns, as in the case of the PKFZ project. These huge cost overruns have now become an “Intellectual Sorrow” to the tax payer.

What prompted the writing of this Article was the continuous remarks or answers given by a number of leading public personalities both of the present and the past and the passive way the main stream media reports on this scandal.

As a keen observer of political affairs and scandals that unfurl all over the whole I can safely state without fear or favour that not only has the Barisan National been having an “Intellectual Honeymoon” for 52 years but it has also along the way institutionalized mediocrity in all facets and strata of Malaysian business and commercial life, and now it is apparent after the Bagan Pinang by-elections that corruption has been Institutionalized.

No astute leader can condone this Government’s mischievous acts and conduct and neither can it change the peoples perception, by the leaders making  academic press releases or oratory.

In conclusion may we state that construction projects are based on the field of science. The use of Mathematics in the field of construction demonstrates the fact of the usage of Symbolic logic. The principles of mathematics consists in the analysis of Symbolic logic itself and it conclusions are exact or precise and the outcome of the cost calculations should have arrived at cardinal figures. Since Mathematics is a precise and exact science, how and on what basis did the cost overruns occur?

On the other hand, semantics and oratory are not exact or precise science. If it was so we would be that much poorer in what we hear and listen to. So now we come to the crux of the matter and that is, “What sought of Intelligence do our Government Leaders have?”

The answer may be found in what Pandolfo Petrucci the Prince of Siena Said:

“ There are three kinds of Intelligence, one understands the things for itself, the second appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others.”

Therefore the first kind is excellent, the second is good, and the third is useless.

In the eyes of all right thinking people a Government that can allow such huge cost overruns on a Government project, is “USELESS.” This is because they do not have the welfare of the people at heart. They build first and plan later and that is not responsible leadership.

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One Response to “BUILD FIRST AND PLAN LATER”

  1. boscopa Says:

    Yes. I am the author of this post.

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