Verbal spat over tar thickness in Batu Kawa

Yong (centre) inspecting a stretch of the road which had a very thin layer of tar. – Handout photo.

By Chew Lip Song

A WAR of words has developed between the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and the DAP over the upgrading of roads in the Batu Kawa area in Kuching.

The SUPP has claimed that its president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian had successfully applied for a RM3.3 million grant to upgrade 33.8km of gravel roads in the area to tarred roads.

This was also publicised in pamphlets widely distributed by SUPP in Batu Kawa, the seat represented by Dr Sim.

However, state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen had questioned the SUPP’s claim. He added that his party’s Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong had exposed that in one of the roads upgraded under the project, the tar surface was only one inch thick.

“Today is the sixth day after the expose was made and yet, the SUPP Batu Kawa team is dead silent on this,” Chong said in a statement yesterday.

The Kota Sentosa assemblyman added that during Pakatan Harapan’s rule, the surface-tarring needed to be at least three inches (75mm) thick, failing which contractors would not be paid.

Yong showing the thick tar on a road paved during PH’s time. – Handout photo.

The Public Works Department (PWD) would ensure that the work met the minimum specifications. If contractors did not, they would have to resurface the road again, Chong, who is also Stampin MP added.

“Also, we had never come across any road surfacing specification of one inch. How long can
a one-inch tar-surfaced road last?”.

Chong also demanded Dr Sim clarify if the PWD or the Padawan Municipal Council now accepted roads with only one inch-thick tarring and percentages of the 33.8km stretch that adheres to the department’s minimal specifications.

He also wanted to know if inspections or tests were carried out upon completion of the tarring work.

“The RM3.3 million grant is public fund. It is not private money. Therefore, every ringgit
spent must be properly accounted to the public.

“The costs of paving one-inch of tar on road and the costs of paving three inch of tar is a very different and the durability of the road of one-inch tar surface is also very different from that of a three-inch tar surface,” Chong added.

He also chided SUPP leader Tan Kai for lodging a police report against Yong when he should have verified if the people in Batu Kawa had been short-changed with “under-rated or inferior quality roads”.