KUALA LUMPUR: BUDGET limitations have been cited as being the main reason behind the poor conditions along the 17.7km Pulau Indah expressway, also known as FT 181.
A senior Public Works Department official said a monthly allocation of RM1,700 was given to maintain each kilometre of road, which amounted to near half a million ringgit, to maintain the expressway.
“Hauliers use the road frequently to transport goods to and from Port Klang. This takes a toll on the road. A large portion of the budget goes to patching potholes and cracks.
“The balance is used for other maintenance works, including paying for utility bills and grass cutting,” he said, adding that the annual budget stood at RM15 million.
“Certain quarters believe that PWD has a huge budget, but the bulk of the budget is allocated to other projects and maintenance works.
“PWD cannot simply take money from other projects, as that goes against the rules,” he said.
PWD, in a statement recently, said it was looking at upgrading the road from a four-lane carriageway to a six-lane carriageway, with a dedicated motorcycle lane, to ease traffic as well as ensure the safety of motorcyclists, especially those employed at Port Klang.
In the pipeline, the PWD official said, was a plan to convert all six junctions along the 17.7km stretch into flyovers.
“Currently, there are only two flyovers along the stretch, including a newly completed flyover, which will be opened soon. PWD is building another flyover, which is slated to be completed in 2018.”
As an interim measure while waiting for the budget allocation from the government to build the dedicated motorcycle lane, the official said the department proposed paving the road shoulder along the expressway for motorcyclists.
“That way, we will able to separate motorcyclists from heavy vehicles.
“But, we need the cooperation of enforcement agencies to monitor the road so that motorists will not abuse the road shoulder,” he said.
“We are aware that the road is treacherous, but until we are given a budget increase, there is not much that we can do.”
PWD came under fire recently when several associations, including the Association of Malaysian Hauliers and Selangor Container Drivers Association, complained that the expressway, which comes under the supervision of the department, was in poor condition and the site of too many fatal accidents, with the most recent involving a motorcycle and a trailer last week.
PWD director-general Datuk Dr Roslan Md Taha said that the cost of upgrading the 17.7km expressway stretch would be RM3 billion, which would be utilised for land acquisition as well as associated construction works.
“PWD has requested for the budget from the government, and will only begin the work when the budget is approved,” he told the New Sunday Times.
Roslan refuted claims by certain quarters that his department had neglected maintenance of the expressway, adding that the department was swift to patch up any potholes.
“If we identify any potholes or cracks along the road, we will patch them up within 24 hours,” he said.
Roslan said since 2010, PWD had spent RM46.1 million on fixing the expressway and other roads in Port Klang.
This includes restoring and strengthening the pavement structure, painting road lines, installing and repairing road barriers, and fixing streetlights and traffic lights.
“This year, the department spent RM950,000 to restore the North Port Highway, while restoration work on FT 181, which cost RM1.2 million, had already begun, and is expected to be completed this month,” he said.
PWD had also spent RM13.4 million on routine maintenance from 2010 until last month. This included patching potholes and cracks, cleaning up drains, cutting grass and cleaning road signs.