Indonesia: Safety Lapses and Fatal Accidents Amid Indonesia’s Infrastructure Boom

  • Indonesia’s infrastructural development has been marred by poor adherence to standard operating procedures and other human errors. In the past two years, 14 accidents were recorded, some of them deadly.
  • Most of the government’s construction projects are developed by state-owned builder Waskita Karya, the biggest constructor in the country. Beside 18 toll-road sections across Java, it is involved in projects ranging from low-cost apartments to elevated roads.
  • Many admit the company has been overwhelmed by the workload.
  • In the most recent construction-site accident, a steel rod killed a passerby at Waskita’s housing development in Pasar Rumput, South Jakarta, on 18 Mar 18.
  • In early Feb 18, an underpass built by Waskita near Soekarno-Hatta International Airport collapsed killing one person. A few weeks later, a concrete mold at the company’s Bekasi-Cawang-Kampung Melayu (Becakayu) Toll Road project in Jakarta fell, seriously injuring seven workers. The company’s stock price has been declining since.
  • Right after the Becakayu accident, Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono suspended 36 high-profile infrastructure projects for safety audit. Construction works at most of them resumed after eight days.
  • Companies on average spend around 1.5% of their budget on ensuring workplace safety. This is not enough, the ministry’s National Construction Safety Committee chairman Syarif Burhanuddin said in late Feb 18.
  • “Most of the recent accidents were due to human error, not construction failure,” the ministry’s spokesman said, pointing to unskilled labor as one of the problems. But there is also another big issue.
  • Noncompliance with standard operating procedures always stands out when accidents occur at construction sites, said a private consultant who requested anonymity.
  • “I’ve learned that contractors deliberately omit several SOPs to lower the costs, because infrastructure projects are normally very expensive … For example in Waskita’s Becakayu accident, I’m sure the company didn’t hire a qualified supervisor, which was a fatal error,” said the consultant who is currently working with the Ministry of Public Works on several projects.

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