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Experts called in to study Camerons apartments

17/02/09 NST By Jaspal Singh

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Two independent consultants will study the structure of three blocks of apartments in Kuala Terla which were evacuated last Friday, after wide cracks appeared on one of the blocks.

The Cameron Highlands District Council has asked them to prepare reports detailing the reasons behind the weakening of the structure and the level of strength of the soil in the affected area.

Council president Datuk Mohd Noor Abdul Rani said the consultants, a structural specialist and the other with expertise in the geotechnical field, had been asked to submit reports to the local authority in two weeks' time.

"The council takes this matter seriously, especially in view of the many hillside tragedies that have occurred elsewhere.

"We are taking immediate action to ascertain the factors that led to the wide cracks on the apartment block."

Noor, also the district officer, said 22 of the 30 families who left the block last Friday had been allowed back into their homes yesterday.

He said they were allowed to return after initial investigations by the structural specialist on Sunday showed that only some units were unsafe for occupation.

Of the 32 units in Block A, which is the worst affected of the three four-storey apartment blocks, only four were found to be unfit for occupation.

"However, the district council has taken precautions by declaring eight units unsafe as these are situated where wide cracks appeared on the foundation pillars.

"At the moment, eight families have been advised to put up elsewhere temporarily until the consultants have completed their investigations."

He said the district council had decided at its meeting yesterday that it would compensate the eight families by paying their rent for the duration that they were unable to return to their homes.

Similarly, monetary compensation would be paid to the rest of the 22 families who had to put up in hotels and rented apartments between Friday and Sunday, he added.

Noor said if the final findings by the consultants showed that Block A needed major repairs to make it safe for living, then the district council would hold a meeting with residents on the next course of action.

"But, if the findings show that the block is not safe at all, then the matter will be brought to the attention of the Pahang government.

"The district council will then propose that temporary shelters be built to house the affected residents."

Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan has urged the district council to carry out studies at the Puncak Arabella apartments in Tanah Rata.

He claimed that it was unsafe as the hillslope on which it was located was eroding.


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