Mammoth operation to remove stuck crane

The mobile crane being loaded onto the trailer at 2.36am.
The mobile crane being loaded onto the trailer at 2.36am. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Bank damaged by crane reopens after hole patched, repairs to be completed in a week

The 68-tonne mobile crane which crashed into a Housing Board block in Woodlands Town Centre on Wednesday morning was finally removed yesterday.

It took two mobile cranes and a 15-man lifting team to complete the mammoth task at 3am, some 20 hours after the stricken vehicle skidded off the road and fell onto its side when its driver lost control at a junction. Nobody was injured.

The truck smashed a giant hole in a brick wall forming the side of a POSB bank at Block 2A, Woodlands Centre Road. Workers covered it with a metal sheet and the area was cordoned off.

The crane's recovery was overseen by the HDB as well as an authorised examiner and a professional engineer.

An HDB spokesman said that clearance to remove the crane was granted only at midnight on Wednesday after "careful and thorough" preparation of the site and arrival of the required personnel. Structural assessments of the building were conducted before and after the lifting process to ensure its stability. Repair works are expected to be completed within a week.

A POSB employee said the bank opened as normal at 8.30am yesterday after being closed on Wednesday. The affected area was cordoned off inside the branch.

A POSB spokesman said the area was used for sales and that the vault in the bank had not been affected, adding that a motion sensor alarm had been set up inside the branch to ensure its security.

Customers were queueing to use the ATMs outside at 5.30pm when The Straits Times visited the site.

Ms Daya Molgeorge, a nurse, got home from work around midnight just as recovery work began.

"I stayed up with some of my neighbours to watch them lift the crane," said the 32-year old, adding that part of her corridor had been cordoned off for safety reasons.

Housewife Tan Eng Chye, 60, said: "The process of removing the crane was very smooth.

"They just lifted it for a few minutes before taking it out. There was very little noise."

The crane driver was arrested on suspicion of negligent driving. The incident is being investigated.

In a Facebook post last night, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the incident could have very easily resulted in multiple fatalities. "We must get crane operators to step up their safety measures and protocols, and minimise the risks of future accidents."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Mammoth operation to remove stuck crane'. Print Edition | Subscribe