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Yesterday, the Works Ministry has set a target of “zero potholes” for all roads under its management. The announcement followed DBKL’s recent declaration that by 2017, Kuala Lumpur will be a pothole-free city. A little ambitious, no?

In a Malay Mail report, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof admitted that the target is not easy to achieve. “Potholes cannot be eradicated completely. It can occur at weak spots on roads, including after flash floods or when traversed by overloaded heavy vehicles,” he said.

The minister said that at present, the authorities are tackling the issue by using a temporary cold mix compound to cover potholes. Proper pothole repair using hot mix premix compounds take time as it requires road-cutting using heavy machinery and cleaning beforehand. “This has to be done every fortnight or once a month, depending on whether the hot mix quantity is adequate for repair,” he said.

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Fadillah explained that the ministry will be working with concessionaires to achieve the zero pothole target, and the Works Department (JKR) has cohesively strategised its districts by strengthening the audit management unit to check whether concessionaires have taken actions required.

“The ministry is confident this can be achieved with stringent auditing and monitoring by the appointed engineers. When they (the concessionaires) fail to deliver, a non-conformance report will be issued by a district engineer (JD) and a certain amount of money will then be deducted from them.

“JDs may also engage a third party to rectify these potholes, with the necessary payments being deducted from the concessionaire,” he said, adding that federal roads are currently being monitored by 78 JDs. Concessionaire reps in every district have to monitor the roads twice a week and submit a report to the respective JDs.

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Bad patch-ups by developers or utility companies is also a big problem, and this is also covered by the audit monitoring unit. “All works and repairs for federal roads should get the approval of the respective JD, and a certain amount of the deposit will be retained before work commences. The retained portion of the deposit will be used for remedial repair works should the initial repair or restoration of the road not be up to JKR’s quality and standard,” Fadillah explained.

The Works Ministry will be proposing a revolving fund, aside from the above-mentioned deposit, to be set up in all states under its purview. “This money shall be used as a contingency to repair roads due to improper restoration by utility companies,” the minister said.

As for developers who carry out road works without approval, the JD will lodge a police report and a stop work order will then be issued. To expedite action, the ministry has established 14 different avenues and channels for the public to lodge complaints, including “Aduan KKR”, an app where one can send complaints with images and location for immediate action, Fadillah said.

The Works Ministry oversees 14,697 km of federal roads in Peninsular Malaysia, maintained by three road concessionaires. Last week, the Transport Ministry made a commitment to upgrade the safety of 75% of the country’s 144,000 km of roads to meet international standards by the year 2020.