Judge convicts contractor and senior project staff over fatal viaduct collapse in Singapore

A court in Singapore has convicted a construction firm and two senior project staff over the 2017 collapse of the Pan-Island Expressway viaduct that killed one worker and injured 10 others. 

After a 60-day trial, Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun found that Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors, along with project director Yee Chee Keong, 51, and project engineer Wong Kiew Hai, 32, had recklessly endangered lives by failing to stop work after alarm was raised over extensive cracking on temporary corbels holding up the structure.

In his ruling on Friday, 22 January, the judge found that Wong and Yee deleted incriminating messages and photographs and lied to authorities about their actions, reports The Straits Times. 

"OKP failed to call for a stoppage of works despite having ample time to do so," the judge said.

"Instead of stopping works immediately, (Wong and Yee) waited for further instruction and put the safety and lives of the workers on the deck slab at risk."

He said the two men hatched a plan to lie to the authorities after the collapse, while their deletion of messages obstructed justice and hindered the trial.

"Wong’s and Yee’s lies corroborated their guilt," he said.

The case brought by prosecutors argued that cracks had appeared two weeks before 14 July, when the viaduct suddenly collapsed, killing a Chinese national working on the project and 10 other foreign workers.

Then, at 3.15am on the morning of the collapse, representatives of Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, the client, saw the cracks and were alarmed. They asked Wong to stop work but he did not do so in time to keep workers safe.

OKP, Wong and Yee will be sentenced on 8-9 April.

OKP, as a repeat offender, could be fined up to S$1 million.

For recklessly endangering the workers, Wong and Yee face prison terms of up to two years, a fine of up to S$200,000 or both, reports the Times, which added they could each also be jailed for up to seven years and fined for obstructing justice.

OKP and four men, including Wong and Yee, were charged in 2018 in relation to the collapse.

The other two men, Indonesian Robert Arianto Tjandra, 47, the engineer who prepared building work plans for the viaduct, and Leong Sow Hon, 62, the accredited checker for its construction,

According the Times, Tjandra pleaded guilty in November 2019 to three of five charges and he was jailed for 86 weeks and fined $10,000.

Leong pleaded guilty in June 2019 to failing to check the detailed structural plans and design calculations in accordance with regulations, and he was jailed for six months. His appeal against the sentence was later dismissed by the High Court.

OKP was previously fined $10,000 for carrying out unauthorised strengthening works on the permanent corbels of the viaduct, but claimed trial for the charge, resulting in its conviction Friday.

Image ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

Further reading:

Chinese worker killed in Singapore highway collapse



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