SINGAPORE: The construction company involved in the collapse of an uncompleted viaduct near the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) on Friday (Jul 14) – leaving one dead and 10 injured – was earlier this week fined over a safety lapse that resulted in the death of another worker in 2015.
Construction firm Or Kim Peow (OKP) was contracted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to build a viaduct next to the slip road from Upper Changi Road East to PIE (Changi). Work on the viaduct started in November 2015 and was expected to be completed by November 2019.
The project, with a contract value of more than S$94.6 million, was awarded to OKP in 2015. OKP, together with engineering firm CPG Consultants, beat three other groups which had tendered bids ranging from S$129.7 million to S$193.7 million, according to information on LTA’s website.
In a statement filed with the Singapore Exchange, OKP said it will cooperate fully with the authorities in their investigations.
"The board is deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident and wishes to express the company’s heartfelt sympathies to the families of the deceased and others injured in the incident," said the statement. "Meanwhile, (the company) will ensure that the needs of the affected workers are fully taken care of."
CPG also issued a statement saying: "We are saddened by the accident and our hearts go out to the injured workers and the family of the deceased. We are currently working closely with LTA and the relevant authorities to carry out detailed investigations."
On Tuesday (Jul 11), OKP and one of its supervisors were convicted and fined over safety lapses at a work site under the Yio Chu Kang Flyover on Sep 22, 2015. One worker died and three suffered fractures and contusions after they fell 6.4m to the ground when a platform they were working on gave way.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said investigations found that the company had failed to ensure that the platform the workers were on had been properly put up.
OKP was fined S$250,000 and MOM said this was “a clear case of a company that does not take workplace safety seriously".
As of Jul 3, OKP had 25 demerit points and was blacklisted from Jan 5 to Apr 4 this year, according to a list of contractors with demerit points on the ministry's website. A workplace accident that led to the death of one person would result in 25 demerit points.
Companies with 25 to 49 demerit points accumulated within an 18-month period are not allowed to hire new workers for three months, although they can renew permits of existing workers.
HISTORY OF PUBLIC SECTOR WORK
Founded in 1966, OKP has up to 50 employees and describes itself as “a leading infrastructure and civil engineering group in Singapore”. It specialises in constructing airport runways and taxiways, expressways and flyovers as well as maintenance works for roads.
OKP is listed as "A1 grade" under the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Contractors’ Registry, allowing them to tender for public sector construction projects of unlimited value.
Public sector clients include the Housing and Development Board, JTC, National Parks Board, PUB and Urban Redevelopment Authority while private sector clients include Changi Airport Group and ExxonMobil. But LTA, in its earlier incarnations under the Public Works Department, has been OKP's main customer since its beginnings in 1966.
OKP has completed 15 road or highway construction projects contracted by LTA since 2003, the most recent being a widening of Tanah Merah Coast Road which was completed in May this year. Ongoing road works include the now-collapsed viaduct as well as JTC-contracted infrastructure development at Punggol due for completion in October.
In recent years OKP, which was listed on the Singapore Exchange in 2002, has also expanded its core business to include property development and investment, with ventures into luxury condominiums. In 2014 it invested in associated company United Singapore Builders with four other established construction companies, with the aim of participating in MRT tenders and undertaking MRT projects.
The company has also sought to grow its presence in the oil and gas industry with projects on Jurong Island.
But construction remains its main product, accounting for 81.5 per cent of its S$111.1 million revenue in 2016. This was up 7.6 per cent from the financial year before.
OKP ASKS FOR TRADING HALT
Mainboard-listed OKP Holdings, the holding company of OKP Contractors, asked for a trading halt at around 10.15am after its share price plummeted.
As of mid-day trading, the price of its shares had fallen 8.1 per cent to 39.5 cents each.