25 June 2013
"FOOL me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" – a very apt adage to describe the goings-on at klia2 in Sepang.
According to a source, AirAsia Bhd has again changed its mind on what it wants in klia2. The main tenant of the country’s first permanent low-cost carrier terminal has recently expressed its reservations of an automatic baggage handling system it had initially agreed on. It has also gone off the idea of using a standard check in system by IT provider for the air transport industry, SITA, something agreed on one-and-a-half years ago.
But does it matter now considering the terminal is already to be delayed by another year? It does, because it is these very matters that have led to now a May 2, 2014 deadline. It is not all AirAsia’s doing of course, other stakeholders are also involved.
In fact, it’s safe to say that the delay in klia2 would serve well as a case study on the extreme laxness of stakeholder practice in the development of public facilities. For a start, one can cite the inadequacies of KLIA Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd, a 30% owned Ministry of Finance company, entrusted with the technical and project management work of klia2 at the very start, which led to it not being renewed after its second year. Its contract ended in August 2011.
Then of course there were the requirements of the Home Ministry for complete separation between arrival and departure passengers, which led to the construction of a nine-storey terminal building, something not originally budgeted for.
Let’s not forget the Department of Civil Aviation also decided that the positioning of the air control tower would not give it optimal view of all runways, current and in planning, asking therefore for the site be moved. This was decided in March 2012 after RM4 million worth of piling work on the earlier site had been completed.
Then there was the visit by the immigration officers in April this year, which unearthed its requirement for a 10-minute service level as opposed to 30-40 minutes. What does this mean, you ask? Well, more immigration counters than originally planned. And more delays of course.
The most recent and blatant example of course, is the conduct of the main building contractor joint venture partners UEM Construction Sdn Bhd and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd (UEM-BinaPuri).
The problem is not the requirements, the problem is the indecisiveness and lack of commitment that could only have been brought on by a total disregard for public welfare and costs to the developer, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB). So, 37 packages of work for klia2 became 51 packages.
We all know that the current LCCT at 20 million passengers per year is bursting at the seams.
And it is obvious that the increase in costs and delays do not affect any of the parties mentioned because none of them are footing the bill. Which of course begs the question of why MAHB gave in, time and time again?
Perhaps giving in was the only option. Perhaps this is how government-linked companies work. You cover for each other’s inadequacies. Let yourself be held ransom by powerful personalities because you are told to do so.
The fine imposed on UEM-Binapuri for it’s tardiness was a welcome surprise. That must have not been in the script. So let’s not stop at UEM-BinaPuri, let’s see proof of what is really behind the many delays and escalated costs at klia2.
Let’s name them and bill them. That should put everyone on their toes.
And maybe, just maybe, MAHB will be able to deliver on May 2, 2014.