OPUS Consultants (M) Sdn Bhd's appointment as project management consultant for two Sarawak mega road projects is not meant to replace the Public Works Department (PWD), said state Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister Tan Sri James Masing today.
He said OPUS was appointed due to its vast experience in providing engineering design and supervision consultancy services as it has been involved in some of Malaysia's most impressive infrastructure and built-environment projects, including expressways and highways, airports and railways, and urban utilities.
Masing said OPUS, as a hybrid project management consultant (PMC) model, will serve to enhance the capacity of the state PWD by extending its current technical capacities and capabilities.
"By doing so, it enables the state JKR to have a close day-to-day involvement in managing the project starting from design to tender preparation, estimates and tender evaluation, post contract and construction management," he said when winding up the debate in the Sarawak State Assembly here.
Masing was replying to Violet Yong (DAP-Pending) who had questioned the state government for appointing OPUS as the project management consultant for the RM11 billion coastal road network and second trunk road projects.
She also claimed the payment of RM50 million as consultant fees for the first phase of the coastal road network was too high and asked if OPUS was taking over the role of the state PWD in managing road projects in Sarawak.
Masing also said the state cost committee had also approved the partnership and integration of OPUS with local consultants, such as Concept-PJurutera Sdn Bhd, Perunding Iriz and Konsultant Timur, to develop the local Sarawak professional workforce.
"There is also active participation by other local consultants as the design consultants for the projects," he said, adding that the state PWD expects to appoint around 30 local consultants with design fees amounting to about RM300 million.
He also said the number of professional and semi-professional staff involved in the project must consist of at least 51 per cent Sarawakians.
He said OPUS also agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state PWD's Research Centre on pavement enhancement, as well as the development of solutions for a better, more durable, recyclable and economical pavement for the future of Sarawak's infrastructure.
He said the OPUS model allowed for the flexibility of expansion and reduction of project team size based on requirements throughout project phases.