SINGAPORE: A building company, project director and engineer were found guilty on Friday (Jan 22) of various criminal charges in the 2017 collapse of a viaduct under construction, which killed one worker and injured 10 others.
Or Kim Peow Contractors, a builder appointed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to construct the viaduct to link two expressways, was found guilty in failing to take necessary measures to ensure the safety of workers casting a deck slab.
Project director Yee Chee Keong and engineer Wong Kiew Hai were convicted of recklessly endangering the workers' safety by not calling for works to be stopped when they discovered cracks, and for obstructing justice by deleting incriminating WhatsApp messages.
READ: PIE viaduct trial: Cracks spotted 3 times before collapse, builder unaware of errors in initial design
A section of the viaduct that was being constructed from the Tampines Expressway (TPE) to the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and Upper Changi Road East collapsed at around 3.30am on Jul 14, 2017.
Eleven workers were on top of the section, working on the casting of the deck slab. They plunged down onto metal rebars, concrete and machinery, and 31-year-old China national Chen Yinchuan died. Ten others sustained injuries ranging from fractures of the pelvis and spine and abrasions and lacerations.
According to the prosecution, there were red flags and warning signs leading up to the collapse, including repeated cracks appearing on the temporary supports or corbels of the viaduct.
However, Or Kim Peow, along with Yee and Wong, ignored them. The company did not inform LTA of any of the prior corbel cracks, even though the company knew that the authority would want to know about it and would require an explanation.
READ: PIE viaduct collapse: Engineer admits he knew about design errors, structural cracks before fatal accident
The longest and most severe cracks were discovered 40 minutes before the collapse, while the workers were casting the deck slab and continually adding wet concrete, but no one stopped work.
The cracks concerned Wong, who called Yee. Yee instructed him to notify co-accused Robert Arianto Tjandra, the registered professional engineer of the project, but they did not stop work.
After the structure collapsed, Yee and Wong both deleted their WhatsApp messages to each other proving they knew of the cracks, and lied to authorities that they had ordered works to stop but this did not happen in time.
All of the accused will be sentenced at a later date.
Tjandra pleaded guilty midway into a trial and was given about a year and nine months' jail and a S$10,000 fine. The accredited checker for the construction of the viaduct, Leong Sow Hon, pleaded guilty and was given six months' jail.
LTA in December 2018 announced that it had appointed another company to finish the viaduct, and it is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022.