Construction firm, ex-employee fined for works that led to Pasir Ris flood

SINGAPORE – Construction firm Samwoh Corp and its former project manager admitted on Tuesday (Nov 30) to unauthorised drainage works, resulting in a flood that inundated multiple vehicles on Aug 20.

The company was fined $17,000 after it was convicted of three charges under the Sewerage and Drainage Act.

Former project manager at Samwoh Fong Woei Jiun, 45, was fined $7,500 after he pleaded guilty to one charge under the same Act.

Prosecuting officer for national water agency PUB Khong Pui Pui said that the flood, which affected a 200m section of the junction of Tampines Avenue 10 and Pasir Ris Drive 12, had caused traffic congestion and inconvenience to road users for almost two hours.

She added that of the 13 motorists whose vehicles became partially submerged, five needed help to open their vehicle doors.

Stressing that it was a man-made flood, Ms Khong added: “The rest waded through water as high as their waist to get to safety. One person was taken to hospital with leg pain.

“The flood incident left several scared and traumatised as they experienced water (entering) their cars rapidly… At least two affected motorists waited for three hours for their cars to be towed away.”

The court heard that two fire engines and two ambulances were deployed to the scene. More than a dozen officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force also attended to the affected motorists.

Conducting an investigation after the incident, PUB found that the Land Transport Authority had awarded Samwoh a contract to carry out enhancement works in the area, but that Samwoh had carried out some works without PUB’s approval.

Ms Khong said that a section of an existing drain along Tampines Avenue 10 that was 1.8m wide and 4m deep had been removed. It was replaced with another drain of the same width but which was shallower at 3m.

She added that the midsection of this new drain had two openings, one of which was too small while the other was only partially constructed.

The prosecutor told the court: “In addition to the undersized drain openings, the water flow and drainage of the new drain were impeded by about 13m of scaffolds erected and placed in the drain and a water pump.”

The court heard that the partially constructed opening was also obstructed by rebars.

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

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Rain poured down at Tampines Avenue 10 on Aug 20 from 5.30am to 9.10am.

She said that the storm water drainage system in the area was “more than adequate” to cope with the rainfall intensity that morning but Samwoh’s works had “changed the capacity, flow rate and storm water conveyance of the drain”, leading to the flood.

As for Fong, the court heard that he had instructed an assistant site supervisor to construct a drain opening without specifying it should be 1.8m wide and 3m deep.

As a result, a smaller drain opening that was 0.6m wide and 0.6m deep was constructed instead. This then directly affected the storm water drainage system in the area.

Samwoh had allegedly carried out unauthorised works that led to the flood on Aug 20, 2021. PHOTOS: PUB

In a statement on Tuesday evening, Samwoh’s chief executive Eric Soh apologised for the errors that had led to the incident.

He added: “Public safety is always Samwoh’s top priority. On the date of the incident, the company took immediate rectification works to raise drainage capacity at the junction in collaborative consultation with the authorities.

“The company 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.”

Without revealing details, Mr Soh said that the firm has “proactively implemented enhanced internal measures and controls to further improve its standards and processes so as to ensure safety and environmental protection” across all ongoing projects.

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