Singapore—The country’s national water agency, PUB, announced on Sunday (Sept 13) that it issued its highest ever fine on Feng Ming Construction for causing damage to a water main.
The company was fined S$56,500 for a 2019 incident wherein it damaged a large water main and carried out unauthorised sheet piling installation works.
PUB said in a September 13 media release “The damage led to substantial loss of approximately 468,000 litres of portable water, enough to fill about one-fifth of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. As a result of the incident, water supply to 38 households in the vicinity was disrupted for about 9.5 hours.”
Singapore’s Public Utilities Act states that the penalty for causing damage to a water main or connecting pipe with a diameter of 300mm or more is a fine of up to S$200,000 or imprisonment for up to three years, or both.
The company was doing sheet piling works at Dunearn Road as part of the road widening project in the Bukit Timah area on September 20 last year. One of its piling machines drove a steel sheet pile into the ground, hitting and puncturing a 500mm diameter water main at a depth of 2.5 metres under the road’s surface.
The PUB, upon being informed of the mishap, inspected the water main and found a gash measuring 100mm by 30mm in size. In the meantime, the agency had a water wagon deliver water bags to households affected by the incident.
The agency discovered that the company knew about the underground water main, as this was included in the PUB water service plan.
However, the contractor for Feng Ming Construction did not perform enough trial trenching evaluations that would have determined the water main’s exact location and alignment. Furthermore, the company had started sheet piling works even before it handed in a plan for PUB’s approval.
PUB wrote, “Under the Public Utilities (Protection of Water Pipes Infrastructure) Regulations 2017, contractors installing sheet piles or any other similar installations must ensure that the activity is carried out in accordance to an approved plan. This plan should be endorsed by a registered professional engineer and include a method statement, an impact assessment and instrumental monitoring proposal on carrying out the activity of sheet piling installation work. Contractors who fail to comply with the above provisions are liable to a fine of up to $10,000.”
On August 25, 2020, the company was found guilty of the two charges it faced and fined S$55,000 for damaging the water main “the highest fine imposed by the State Courts for water main damage under the Public Utilities Act to date,” as well as S$1,500 for the unauthorised sheet piling installation works.
PUB added in its press release that Feng Ming Construction has been convicted for damaging a large water main in the past. In October 2013, the company was issued a S$40,000 fine for the damage it caused to a 300mm diameter water main at Geylang Lorong.
“PUB takes a serious view against any acts of water wastage, which could be prevented if due diligence had been exercised by the contractor,” PUB added. —/TISG