RUSSELL ISLAND’S JOHN CLISSOLD SCALED THE HEIGHTS OF ENGINEERING AND RECOGNISED BY TWO PRIME MINISTERS! When it comes to the world of engineering, Russell Island’s John Clissold has scaled the highest of heights/. It is a profession that has taken him all over the world multiple times and he has been involved with some of the biggest projects imaginable. None of them as significant, however, as a major disaster that occurred in Singapore in April 1986. John’s involvement in the rescue efforts saw him lauded and recognised from the country’s then President Mr Wee Kim Wee, as well as Australia’s then Prime Minister, the Hon Bob Hawke. John received the prestigious Public Service Medal from the Wee Kim Wee with Prime Minister Hawke, who was in Singapore at the time, also at the ceremony. On March 15 1986 John Clissold was the resident engineer for the Singapore City Hall Station when the New World Hotel collapsed in the centre of Singapore. The Lian Yak building which housed the Hotel New World, collapsed due to structural defects and poor quality construction. The collapse left 33 people dead, and was considered one of the worst disasters in post-war Singapore. John’s efforts resulted in many lives being saved when he was the MRTC engineer in charge. He ended up overseeing the complete dismantling of the hotel. A further citation was to follow from the MRT Corporation to John for his efforts for when he worked in the tunnels on the site during the earlier period after the collapse when survivors were saved. Some of the projects John Clissold managed and oversaw were some of the most significant in engineering. One was in Pakistan which was of Khyber Pass proportions. It involved a 93 kilometre project that encompassed 97 bridges, six major interchanges, 125 underpasses and 188 major drainage structures at a cost of US $1200 million. One key section involved a climb of 700 metres over a distance of 10km through the Salt Ranges. Other countries he has worked in on major projects include Indonesia, Vietnam, PNG, Abu Dhabi and, of course, Australia. There is hardly a major thoroughfare in Brisbane that John Clissold has not worked on or overseen including the Logan Motorway, Brunswick Street Station and the Clem Tunnel, as well as Hope Island and other waterway projects world-wide. He has worked under contract with or for many major firms as well as his own consultancy company. He is recognised for a proven track record and a collegial approach to problem solving. It was John who transformed Brisbane City Council in the way it conducts infrastructure business. He helped change the way Council operated, resulting in huge savings. The focus changed from using outside contractors to accommodate the high fluctuations in workload, in one instance reducing staff from 200 to 11. From and islands point of view, John Clissold’s contribution has been significant. Although in recent years he has been restricted for movement and health issues, it was John who advised Cr Mark Edwards to on introduce the now popular ‘Green Seal’ program for island roads. Cr Edwards told The Friendly Bay Islander: “John Clissold came and addressed Council at the time and pointed out that island roads were low traffic roads and did not need or require the then extensive road preparation and associated costs. “Because many of the island gravel roads had been well prepared, he suggested a top-up to these roads and a dual seal of bitumen and gravel. “And because of its low impact to the existing island environment, the method was christened ‘Green Seal’ “ Cr Edwards added. John Clissold is proud of his contribution to engineering and currently is occasionally involved in consultancy work when asked.
• John Clissold and Prime Minister Bob Hawke