Thursday, June 17, 2010

Penang Botanic Garden Arch tilt getting worse

The controversial Penang Botanic Gardens arch has now tilted by about 38cm, an increase of 25cm since last month, according to several non-governmental organisations.

Penang Heritage Trust member and former consultant engineer Ahmad Chik claimed that the tilt had worsened after its first reading of about 13cm in May.

“I don’t know how the authorities can describe it as a cosmetic defect when it is now tilting from both the major and minor exists,” he told reporters after measuring the tilt with a plumb line yesterday.

PHT spokesman Loh-Lim Lin Lee said “even by observing with the naked eye, you can see that the outer edges of the two arches are not aligned,” adding that the tilting arch was unsafe and must be removed.

“The question now is not merely about whether the arches are beautiful or ugly. This is a serious safety issue,” she said.

Also present were Friends of the Penang Botanic Gardens Society vice-president Datuk Tengku Idaura Tengku Ibrahim and Malaysian Nature Society Penang branch chairman D. Kanda Kumar.

Kanda Kumar urged the Tourism Ministry to engage “an independent consultant” to prove that the arch was safe.

“We have heard that a technical report was presented to the ministry but who prepared the report? Is it an independent body or the contractors themselves?” he asked.

On Monday, the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng told The Star that Universiti Sains Malaysia had been commissioned to conduct a “proper survey” on the two arches.

A check at the gardens revealed that the short survey questionnaire was mainly concerned with whether the structures were “unique” and “beautiful” and if they should be retained.

Last month, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen asked the contractor to give her a detailed technical report on the arches being built near the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.

She said the ministry would not compromise on the safety of the people.

Since then, the State Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID), which is in charge of implementing the project to expand the gardens, had been directed to stop work on both arches.

DID director Anuar Yahya has since claimed that the foundation and structure of the arches were safe based on checks carried out by consultants.

He described the tilt of one of the arches as a “cosmetic defect, and not a structural one.”
A DID spokesman, when contacted yesterday, said he was not aware of the latest tilt but would conduct an immediate investigation.


I was thinking, perhaps the ministry would really want to wait until something bad happens, then only they will take some real actions. Else they want to continue cover their mistakes and continue to fool the people?

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