Residents and motorists jittery when near LRT and MRT construction sites


(The Star) – MOTORISTS in the Klang Valley have become wary of project sites where rail transport is under construction, following recent accidents.

Valerie Ong, who works in Phileo Damansara 2 in Petaling Jaya, said she would speed up every time she had to pass one of those project sites.

“It is difficult to avoid an MRT or LRT project site because they are nearly everywhere in the Klang Valley.

“As a precaution, I always look out for cranes and other objects to decide whether I should stop or drive through,” she said.

On June 24, a metal slab fell onto a passing car at the Pusat Bandar Damansara MRT construction site. According to reports, the driver escaped with minor injuries.

Two days later, a steel beam fell from a crane and crashed on top of a car travelling near the LRT construction site along Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang. The car was then hit from behind by a van and the two people in the car were reported to have sustained minor injuries.

Those who live near an MRT or LRT construction site are equally worried.

Taman Tun Dr Ismail resident Saleh Mohamed, for example, feels nervous about the construction pillars protruding past the hoarding installed along the kerb outside his house in Pinggiran Za’aba.

“The MRT track is being built about 9m from our gate. It is a narrow road, cars are sometimes parked by the roadside and we worry about falling objects,” he said.

Saleh also pointed out a spot near Taman Billion in Cheras where the gantry was very close to MMR2, and wondered if it fulfilled the required six-metre gap between the track and any building.

MRT Corp strategic communications and public relations director Amir Mahmood Razak said the structure seen at the top of the pier was only temporarily used to facilitate the construction of the MRT guideway.

“The work is being done on a platform that is securely fixed onto the pier. Among the safety procedures in place are having raised edges on the platform to ensure that nothing can roll off and fall from it, and installing netting to catch any falling debris.

He also assured that the permanent MRT guideway remained about 15m from the houses.

“The temporary structures and hoarding may create the impression that the MRT project has moved closer to the houses,” he said.

Commenting on the proximity of the gantry to MRR2 at the construction site in Taman Billion, Amir assured that it complied with the law.

“Presumably, Saleh is referring to the railway safety protection zone required under the Railways Regulation 1998. Under the regulation, the space between is measured horizontally and not vertically.

“For structures above the railway track, the height clearance will be governed by technical requirements that take into account factors such as vertical and lateral movements of a train when moving, overhang on curve and tilt. When it runs beneath and in the vicinity of the MRR2, it is covered by the full enclosure that also functions as a sound barrier and protects the railway from any falling objects from above,” said Amir.

He said MRT was in the midst of reviewing their safety guidelines at construction sites.

“MRT Corp has hired reputable consultants to review and audit our current practices, even before the recent accident. We are aware of the risks, based on the site reports.

“We have been taking measures to step up our level of safety standards.

“The public are informing us, almost on a daily basis, of dangerous spots and I will personally reply to them and make necessary arrangements to assist as soon as possible.

“For example, we received complaints about the jagged alignment of the road barriers along Sprint Highway near the Bangsar exit, where motorists need to make a sudden right turn to continue on the highway.

“At that particular spot, we are working in the median. It is a confined space but we try to do the best we can to make the area safe for everybody, including the workers on site,” he said.

Motorists have also raised their concern over the LRT extension project in SS15, Subang Jaya, where portal frames (which support the tracks) are being built overhead.

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) project development division group director Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff said the local councils were the authorities to decide on closure of roads under their management.

“In the development of the LRT Extension Project, our consultants and contractors are required to submit the traffic management plan to the local authorities for detailed review and deliberations before the plan can be implemented.

“In SS15, Subang Jaya Municipal Council only permitted the closure of one lane to allow for traffic movement.

“However, contractors are allowed to conduct only piling work, construction of pile caps and column works, the scope of which remains within the barricaded work area or Right of Way (ROW).

“Works that require heavy lifting, including the launch and installation of pre-cast segments or segmental box girders (SBG) that form the LRT Extension Project track, will only be conducted during off-peak hours or late night in areas with heavy vehicular traffic, and the roads will be closed to facilitate such works,” he said, adding that netting would only be installed for overhead construction work areas that were still in progress.

The construction site along Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang also makes one nervous because of two accidents in the past.

On motorists questioning the risks from the proximity of the track above the New Klang Valley Expressway, Zulkifli said the vertical clearance met the requirements of the approving authorities.

“Typical clearance is between 5.1m and 5.4m, depending on the approving authority. The current clearance between NKVE and the LRT track in question is 5.4m,” he said.

M. Priya, who uses that particular stretch every day, said the road barriers were unevenly aligned and made it difficult for those unfamiliar with the road.

“There must be something more that Prasarana can do to make it smoother and safer for motorists. The fact that the roads are narrow make it dangerous for road users as the slightest mistake may end up disastrous. Perhaps they can station a person on site to guide traffic,” she said.

During a visit to the area, StarMetro spotted construction materials, including a garbage bin and steel pipe, precariously dangling by the side of the road.

Zulkifli said the construction materials did not belong to Prasarana but was from another project.

“As we progress in the LRT Line Extension Project, we will continually improve the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) practices, with emphasis on compliance with the procedures developed, as well as the commitment of all stakeholders, including the consultants, engineers and contractors.

“Together with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, we had recently launched the safety passport system that is compulsory for all contractors (including their staff and workers), whereby workers performing selected tasks must be orientated on the safety processes and procedures before the tasks are carried out.

“Incidents that happened in the past will be lessons for future planning and management of all stakeholders,” said Zulkifli.