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Soft ground hampers progress of Sibu Airport Interchange

Tuesday, 26 February 2019, Sibu: Soft ground conditions in Sibu has delayed construction works of Sibu Airport Interchange.

According to LBU Construction Manager for Sibu Section under WPC 07, Zainol Ramli, when construction works started in mid-2017 for the Sibu Airport Interchange, the contractor had to treat a huge area with soft ground near the roundabout.

“Instead of proceeding with construction works based on the original drawings, the contractor had to spend time and resources to treat the ground first by doing piled embankment. This was an important measure to stabilise the road so that it will not settle. The pile embankment work was completed recently”, said Zainol.

Prior to commencing works, additional detailed soil investigation had to be carried out. The results were submitted to the consultants to design the piled embankment. The soil investigation also has to be vetted by LBU’s in-house engineering team before getting approval from the State Public Works Department (JKRS).

This design and approval process is mandatory to ensure design adequacy as well as allocation of funds and transparency. The whole process takes several months before the additional piled embankment work can actually commence.

Earthworks for the interchange proceeded after completion of the piled embankment. That’s when the contractor unexpectedly encountered another stretch with soft ground from Sibu Airport direction towards the interchange. In turn, this new area required another round of piled embankment work to be carried out for proper stability of the future highway.

Needless to say, the soft ground treatment has affected the timing to open the roundabout to public traffic.

To minimise inconvenience caused to road-users, the contractor has rescheduled its work so as to provide for the partial opening of the roundabout by April this year to ease the congestion of traffic to Sibu Airport.

“Hopefully, no further existing utilities or other unexpected ground conditions will delay the schedule.

“The good news is that we will start launching the 84 beams for the Sibu Interchange in March this year. Once all the beams have been launched, the contractor can start work on the roundabout which is expected to be completed by November this year. Once the roundabout is ready, there will be no more hassle for motorists who currently have to drive through a road diversion,” Zainol added.

Sibu Airport Interchange is expected to be fully completed by March 2020. The main contractor for Works Package 07 is HSL DMIA JV Sdn Bhd.