Friday, 18 January 2019, Sematan: Contractors face many challenges when building roads. Some are related to the topography of the area and soil or ground conditions.
Weather is a big factor in timely delivery. So too is the availability of sufficient and quality manpower, machinery and materials. For Samling Resources, contractor of WPC 01 Telok Melano to Sematan, the company took these challenges in its stride.
However, Samling Resources had to contend with one additional unique factor, and that is managing environmental concerns and minimising negative impacts to the fragile local environment as the company went about clearing forests to pave the way for construction, cutting through rocky hill slopes and working in soft ground at swampy river banks.
The Telok Melano – Sematan stretch goes through Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary, home to many protected animals, flora and fauna.
The construction team had to strictly adhere to the terms and conditions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
“We had to be cautious when clearing vegetation within the road reserve to minimise destruction to the natural habitat.
“Clearing, whilst vital for construction activities to proceed, also increases the quantity of suspended solids in the rivers and waterways. In order to prevent this, best management practices, such as silt fences and temporary slope cover, had to be installed at the riverbanks to prevent slope erosion and runoff into the rivers”, said Samling Resources Senior Project Manager, Steven Lee.
Samling Resources took 39 months to complete the 32.770km JKR R5 standard dual lane single carriageway Telok Melano to Sematan stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak project, two days ahead of the contractual date of completion.
“Building this stretch was not as easy as it seemed to be. One of the early challenges was how to get machinery and materials to the site deep in the forest which is protected by the authorities. Various options were considered at the planning stage, including sending materials by boat on the open sea”, said Steven.
“In the end, we built a temporary haul road and temporary bridges to bring the materials in. The haul road was constructed using materials generated from site-clearing and hill-cutting. With these in place, only then could we slowly venture deeper into the forested area to build the road from Sematan towards Telok Melano”, added Steven.
At the same time, there was a need to mobilise a huge number of machineries to construct the road. “On average, we mobilised 160 machineries of all types, such as excavator, dump truck and backhoe. We also had to mobilise and average of 400 workers daily to get the work done,” said Steven.
Weather was another challenge. On average, there were only 220 days of good weather a year. There was even one point in time when the wet weather spell lasted a long 4 months!
“Because of the weather, we had to put in extra machinery and often worked extra hours to catch up with the undone works due to rainy days,” he said.
Despite these challenges, Samling Resources managed to complete the stretch ahead of time to open up Telok Melano, a hidden tourism jewel with its idyllic beach and clear blue sea waiting to be explored.