Are they really ‘sorry for the inconvenience caused’?

Netizens are calling jail time for irresponsible developers and contractors who are negligent in providing safety for both workers and the public

pic by TMR FILE

MISHAPS appear to occur according to trends.

We have seen back-to-back fatal road accidents caused by drunk drivers. Lately, many pictures have gone viral of motorcyclists crashing into the back of parked trailers and most recently, construction-related accidents.

Just over the last weekend alone, there were three.

Last Saturday, a concrete slab from the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) construction site fell on a car on the Middle Ring Road 2.

Looking at the image of the crushed car, one can only wonder how the driver survived.

On the same day, part of a construction crane fell off a trailer and hit a car on Jalan SS2/24 in Petaling Jaya, while on Sunday, a mobile crane hit a car in front of it, crushing the roof and trapping the driver. This last one was believed to be a hit-and-run case.

Accidents involving construction equipment are not new in this country, especially in the Klang Valley, where many have taken lives. Although no deaths were reported in this recent chain of events, there is a fresh spark of concern among road users.

Developers and contractors are speeding up works to make up for lost time caused by the Movement Control Order (MCO) since March, where practically the whole world was at a standstill.

To avoid further financial losses, they are now running at full speed to make deadlines.

In Damansara Perdana in Selangor, residents are pulling their hair at the much-opposed Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway construction which is now going full throttle into the wee hours.

They get awakened at 4am by the sounds of drilling and banging from the work site, which is in close proximity of condominiums and office buildings there.

However, sleepless nights and the occasional splatters of wet cement on their cars are now of lesser concerns for the residents and those working there.

Besides having to keep their eyes peeled for pedestrians crossing the road (which is now a difficult task, no thanks to the many barricades erected along the road), motorists are now constantly looking up in paranoia lest a cement slab, a crane or a human being falls on them.

With all the manpower located around construction sites to control the traffic and ensure the safety of road users, the latter should be able to move around stress free.

And speaking of the traffic controllers, how qualified or prepared are they for the job? Controlling traffic at construction sites is more than waving a tiny flag to tell motorists to stop or go. They need to also be alert of possible dangers, especially with heavy vehicles moving through residential areas.

This writer has noticed that not only are these traffic controllers exhausted-looking from standing in the heat and rain, but half of the time they are paying more attention to the screen of their phones than the busy roads, while road users come and go nervously.

On Tuesday, Senior Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof met with the bosses of the construction industry to discuss safety and health aspects for both workers and the public.

Fadillah had also visited the SUKE project site following Saturday’s incident. He said in a statement that his ministry does not compromise the safety and lives of the public, and the incident will be probed from three perspectives namely the design, monitoring and supervision, and on the role of the independent checkers and engineers.

The public, however, seem jaded. On social media, they are saying the minister’s action is “too little, too late”. They are also telling the authorities to cut the long drama as they foresee these issues will be swept under the rug.

There will just be another “sorry for inconvenience caused” statement, netizens said, until another avoidable incident happens.

Whatever the accompanying factors may be — rushing to meet deadline, overworked manpower or financial constraints, those should never be an excuse for complacency.

Netizens are calling jail time for those responsible for such negligence, as hefty fines are hardly a slap on the wrist for these wealthy developers and contractors.

Well, when people’s lives, property, as well as physical and emotional health are at stake, jail time may just do the trick because we have all had enough of “sorry for the inconvenience caused”.

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.