JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - Indonesian engineers expressed concern over the collapse on Saturday of Indonesia’s 10-year old Kutai Kartanegara bridge which spans 710 meters over the Mahakam river in East Kalimantan.
Reportedly built with a high technology and has a suspended section of 270 meters over the river, the bridge collapsed at 4.30 pm local time when traffic was busy on it.
"All parties involved, beginning from its designers, contractors and operational period, must be held responsible. The incident must be investigated thoroughly to disclose whether it has been built based on the required construction standards," Chairman of the Indonesian Engineers Association (PII) Said Didu said.
Therefore, the PII said it was ready to help the government conduct an investigative auditing of the bridge which connects the sub district of Tenggarong Seberang and Kutai Kartanegara district with East Kilamtan provincial capital of Samarinda.
"PII is ready to help the government investigate the cause of the incident and provide solutions to the problem," Didu said.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono and Minister of Public Works Djoko Kirmanto to inspect the accident and conduct a thorough investigation.
"The President has ordered a prompt investigation to prevent a recurrence of such happening," Agung Laksono said when inspecting the collapsed bridge in Kutai Kartanegara district, East Kalimantan, early Sunday.
The government has assigned the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to investigate the causes of the collapse of the bridge which began operating in 2001. Didu said that his organization was ready to cooperate with BNPB in the investigation.
"PII itself has the initiative to directly go to the locations following the accident. It can also cooperate with the BNPB in order to produce a comprehensive investigative auditing result," Didu said.
Didu said that the investigation would be carried out on three aspects of design, construction and operations of the bridge. Didu who is also a senior researcher of the State Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPTI), said that in the design stage it should be assured that all variables that affect the structure and strength of the construction had been included.
It should also be investigated whether the project has been constructed based on the designs, or whether there were deviations from required standards. Generally, a bridge was designed for a minimum period of 50 years or even 100 years.
"Technology Auditing is carried out to reveal whether in the construction of the bridge, the strength of the construction and quality of materials were reduced or were not in accordance with the requirements. If the answer is yes, then deviations and violations have taken place," he said.
Therefore, parties that should be questioned included the contractors, the consultant, the operators and the maintenance service agency, he said. "Whether the operational and maintenance guidelines have been followed properly is the focus of the PII investigation."
Accroding to Agung Laksono, the cause of the accident was not yet known because a comprehensive investigation was needed before a conclusion cold be made. He said that an expert team of the ministry of public works was expected to arrive on Sunday noon to carry out an investigation with the assistance of the police.
It was earlier reported that the bridge collapsed -- which killed 4 people, injured 30 and caused 23 others to go missing-- when it was under repair. Yet based on preliminary investigation the bridge was not under repair when it collapsed.
"According to information I received from the contractor, the bridge was not under repair but was about to enter into the process of repair," Agung Laksono said. Some of the workers had even fallen victims in the incident.
So far four people have been found dead in the incident while dozen others had been wounded. Agung said what was important to do now was preparing boats to replace the function of the bridge.
Therefore, he called on the local government to seek for alternative transportation means to replace the function of the bridge. "Alternative transportation means needs to be made available in order to ensure the activities of the local people who usually use the bridge."