KUCHING – The Sarawak Public Works Department (JKR Sarawak) and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus have joined hands to tackle riverine construction projects involving soft soil.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed recently, they will share expertise in research and development, engage in capacity building of members of their staff, and facilitate industrial training for Swinburne Sarawak students.
An immediate task they will work on is developing a set of construction and design guidelines for structures on soft river banks. The research experiments for this will be carried out at the technologically advanced geotechnical centrifuge lab at the National University of Singapore.
Apart from developing the technical know-how, Swinburne Sarawak will also study the fundamental effects of progressive soft soil movements towards the river, known as “creep behaviour”, on infrastructure built on river banks.
“We want engineers and academics working together on the value chain every step of the way and this agreement paves the way for us to start our collaboration at the initial phase,” said JKR Sarawak Director Ir. Haji Zuraimi bin Haji Sabki after signing the MoU.
Sarawak has large deposits of soft soil, found along its long coastline and river banks. This is one of the reasons JKR Sarawak has set up a research centre to create and adapt innovative technology in their engineering works.
Swinburne Sarawak has research expertise in understanding the complex soil-structure behaviour of infrastructure built on soft soils. The university was involved in studying the impact of micro-tunnelling in challenging geology for Kuching’s new sewage system.
“We have bright and determined researchers who are pushing boundaries to find sustainable ways of construction in Sarawak, which is well known for its soft soils and highly weathered ‘soft’ rocks,” said Swinburne Sarawak’s Research Centre for Sustainable Technologies Director, Associate Professor Ir. Dominic Ong.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Swinburne Sarawak Professor Janet Gregory said, “This is the type of industry engagement we want for our students and researchers. It enriches their educational experience when their research finds real-world applications.
“Our engineering faculty is pioneering the way in university-industry collaboration and we are very proud for our research to be benefitting the community in such a direct manner.”
Another potential research project Swinburne Sarawak and JKR Sarawak might jointly work on is the exploration of shallow underpasses at roundabouts to ease traffic congestion in Kuching.