KUALA LUMPUR, INDONESIA: Two ministers have come out with differing views on the cause of the fungus problem at the new RM557.8mil Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru. According to Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, it was the failure to undertake routine maintenance, while Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the problem was due to structural defects.
Samy Vellu said the Public Works Department (PWD) had appointed a specialist contractor who had done work on a similar problem at Pantai Hospital here to tackle the problem. Samy Vellu said the Finance Ministry awarded the contract for the construction of the hospital to MH Project Sdn Bhd.
“The PWD was responsible as the implementing agent,” he said. He said the hospital was supposed to be completed on July 29, 2002, but three extensions were given due to various problems.
The hospital, which was completed on Nov 14 last year, was handed to the PWD on Feb 15 and to the Health Ministry a month later. Samy Vellu said the Health Ministry appointed Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd to oversee daily maintenance and monitor building supervisory systems before reporting on defects and damage to the main contractor.
“There were no daily routine checks on the hospital due to lack of staff. The presence of the fungus on the second and third levels of the hospital was due to damage to the air-conditioner valve, which was not reported as there was no building supervisory system,? he said. However, Dr Chua said the fungus problem was due to the structural defects and not delay in routine maintenance.
In dismissing Samy Vellu’s report as ‘defective’, he said the fungus was caused by the dampness in the hospital following leakage in its major roof and low human traffic.
“The roof was like a big retention pond,” he said in an interview by FOONG PEK YEE. “We (Health Ministry) received the hospital in good faith on March 15 this year but it was full of defects. Besides major leaking problems, there were also problems in the piping system which had affected gas flow and also problems in the sewerage. The problems were made known to the contractor, who had promised to rectify them but did not do so,” Dr Chua said yesterday.
He said his ministry was the “end-user” and it was the responsibility of those involved in building the hospital to deliver a good product.