Friday, November 6, 2009

Kampar tragedy: Bridge was illegal, teachers missing

Some of the reasons why the tragedy occured. Seems like the teachers were at fault too but the problem is that the bridge did not have any safety inspections before being used by the public.

IPOH: The collapsed suspension bridge near the SK Kuala Dipang in Kampar that caused three schoolchildren to drown was an illegal structure and the teachers who were supposed to have been supervising them were not present, said an independent committee investigating the matter.

Perak Pakatan Rakyat’s investigation committee member Chang Lih Kang alleged that construction of the bridge had not gone through the proper procedure and that the Kampar District Council and Land Office were not informed of it.

“There were no submission of plans for the structure or any approval by departments such as Health, Fire and Rescue, the Enviromment, and Drainage and Irrigation,” Chang told reporters at a press conference here on Friday.

“The private consulting engineer must also issue a Certificate of Compliance and Completion to the district council and land office, which said they did not receive such a certificate,” he added.

Chang said the probe team had learnt about the matter after meeting the district officer, chief assistant district officer and the land office on Tuesday.

He stressed they were not blaming any parties yet and were merely stating facts gathered from the district council and land office.

Last month, three primary school pupils attending a 1Malaysia camp near the school -- N. Dina Deve and M. Devatharshini, both 11, and 12-year-old V. Divyashree -- drowned after the suspension bridge they were on collapsed into the Sungai Kampar. Nineteen other schoolchildren survived the tragedy.

Committee chairman V. Sivakumar also claimed that the three teachers who were supposed to have been supervising the schoolchildren when they were crossing the suspension bridge had gone “missing” prior to the incident.

Sivakumar said Devatharshini’s elder brother, Sarveswaran, who also took part in the camp, had told him this after a visit to the deceased’s home in Mambang Diawan recently.

“The schoolchildren were briefed on the rules on crossing the suspension bridge,” said Sivakumar, adding that only six students were allowed on the bridge at one time.

“The teachers who were on duty went missing and the 22 students got on the ill-fated suspension bridge without supervision,” he claimed.

Sivakumar also said that most of the teachers were attending a briefing inside the school building when the tragedy occurred.

The 1Malaysia camp was initially open to all post-UPSR pupils, he said.

“However, they did not have enough participants and they opened up the camp to Primary Four and Five students as well,” he added.

When contacted, state executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the Education Ministry-appointed committee tasked to investigate the tragedy was still probing the matter and urged the public to be patient.

“It is pointless to speculate now until the report is ready,” he said.

Kampar district officer Ahmad Kamaruzzaman Hamzah could not be reached for comments.

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