SINGAPORE: A 61-year-old engineer who failed to make sure that the supporting structures of an uncompleted viaduct were sound was jailed for six months on Thursday (Jul 4).
Singaporean Leong Sow Hon’s actions came to light after the collapse of a part of the 1.8km-long Pan Island Expressway (PIE) viaduct, which was under construction along Upper Changi Road East on Jul 14, 2017.
A worker, Chinese national Chen Yinchuan, died in the collapse, and 10 others were injured.
Leong, The managing director of construction specialist firm Calibre Consulting (Singapore), was appointed as an accredited checker by the Land Transport Authority.
He failed to evaluate, analyse and review the structural design in the relevant plans and failed to perform original calculations for all the permanent corbels, the prosecution said.
Permanent corbels are key structural elements of the viaduct as they are essential for its support and overall structural stability, explained Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang.
The design was so inadequate that parts of the viaduct were too weak to support their intended weight even during the construction stage, the court heard.
Leong admitted on Jun 24 that he did not check the designs or perform calculations for the corbels.
Because of the incident, the estimated completion date of the viaduct has been pushed back by at least two years from the first quarter of 2020 to the first half of 2022.
Leong is the first person involved in the case to be sentenced. The rest, including the qualified person who designed the building works and the builder Or Kim Peow Contractors, are set to claim trial.
The prosecution asked for at least nine months’ jail for Leong, saying there was “complete inadequacy” in checking the corbels.
He added that “the collapse of the viaduct would have been inevitable”, and that many people would have been harmed either during the construction stage or after the viaduct was open to traffic.
Leong’s defence lawyer Lim Lian Kee asked for a fine of S$25,000.