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Firm fined S$17,000 for unauthorised drainage works that caused Pasir Ris flooding; project boss fined S$7,500

SINGAPORE — Construction company Samwoh Corporation and its project manager have been fined for unauthorised drainage works that led to flooding at a Pasir Ris traffic junction on Aug 20 this year.

Firm fined S$17,000 for unauthorised drainage works that caused Pasir Ris flooding; project boss fined S$7,500

A screenshot of a video on Facebook showing flood waters near the junction of Tampines Avenue 10 and Pasir Ris Drive 12 on Aug 20, 2021.

  • Samwoh Corporation was convicted of three charges related to the alteration of a drain along Tampine Avenue 10
  • Its project manager, Fong Woei Jiun, was convicted of one charge under the Sewerage and Drainage Act
  • The firm’s CEO, Mr Eric Soh, apologised for the errors that led to the incident and the inconvenience caused to residents and motorists in the vicinity

 

SINGAPORE — Construction company Samwoh Corporation and its project manager have been fined for unauthorised drainage works that led to flooding at a Pasir Ris traffic junction on Aug 20 this year.

The flood made headlines after five people had to be evacuated and at least 13 vehicles were found partially submerged in water at the junction of Tampines Avenue 10 and Pasir Ris Drive 12.

On Tuesday (Nov 30) Samwoh was fined S$17,000 after it was convicted of three charges for altering a drain, obstructing the flow of a storm water drainage system and constructing drain openings without the necessary approval or clearance certificate.

The firm’s project manager, Fong Woei Jiun, was fined S$7,500 after being convicted of one charge under the Sewerage and Drainage Act for failing to obtain a clearance certificate, or the necessary approval from national water agency PUB, to carry out drainage works.

The drain is located along Tampines Avenue 10. Court documents showed that works carried out between December last year and August this year had led to the flood.

Investigations found that before the works began, the drain measured 1.8m in width and 4m in depth, but Samwoh’s drainage works changed its capacity, flow rate and stormwater conveyance.

Summarising the changes, PUB’s prosecuting officer Khong Pui Pui said that the first section of the existing drain was removed, with its outlet blocked off by concrete slabs and replaced with a new drain that was 1.8m wide and 3m deep.

The mid-section of the new drain has two drain openings, Ms Khong said. However, one of the openings was too small, while the other was partially obstructed.

She added that aside from the undersized draining openings, the water flow and drainage of the new structure were impeded by a water pump and about 13m of scaffolds that were erected and placed in the drain.

Moreover, one of the drain openings was obstructed by reinforcing bars from an old drain wall.

“Such constrictions and obstructions reduce the hydraulic capacity of the drains and cause flooding,” she said.

Rain fell around the Tampines Avenue 10 area on Aug 20 between 5.30am and 9.10am.

Ms Khong said that the stormwater drainage system along Tampines Avenue 10 would have been “more than adequate” to cope with the intense rainfall that morning were it not for the drainage works carried out by Samwoh.

On the role Fong played in this, Ms Khong said that as the project manager at the site, he had instructed an assistant site manager to construct a drain opening without specifying that it should be 1.8m wide and 3m deep.

This resulted in the construction of a drain opening that was 0.6m wide and 0.6m deep.

“The default on his part to specify the required size of the drain opening caused Samwoh to carry out works, which directly affected the stormwater drainage system,” she said.

Ms Khong added that Fong did not obtain a clearance certificate or the approval of PUB under the Sewerage and Drainage Act to carry out those works.

TODAY understands that Fong is no longer an employee of Samwoh.

‘WE ARE SORRY’

In a statement issued to the media after the hearing, Samwoh said that it wanted to “apologise for the errors that led to the incident and the inconvenience caused to residents and motorists in the vicinity”.

The firm’s chief executive officer, Mr Eric Soh, said that “public safety is always Samwoh’s top priority”.

On the day of the incident, he said that the company undertook immediate rectification works to raise drainage capacity at the junction in collaborative consultation with the authorities.

Samwoh also conducted a thorough review of the project site to ensure that all works complied with regulations.

“The company has, to date, been working closely with the insurers to facilitate compensation to affected individuals,” he added.

Commenting on Tuesday’s judgement, Mr Soh said that Samwoh’s management fully accepts the sentence imposed by the court and is “deeply humbled by this lapse in our standards”.

The company has taken steps to improve the standards and processes for all its ongoing projects to “ensure safety and environmental protection”, he added

“We will work hard to regain the trust and confidence from the public and the authorities, and strive to better our commitment in serving the community and country as we have for the past 46 years.” 

Related topics

court flood flash flood drainage Tampines PUB Samwoh

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