Paterson Road oil spill: Police say officers erred in assessment

Road resurfacing works being conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill took place in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Road resurfacing works being conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill took place in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A traffic forensic worker collecting a sample of road covered with oil along Paterson Road. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A traffic forensic worker collecting a sample of road covered with oil along Paterson Road. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A cleaner washing the pavement at the junction of Paterson Road and Orchard Boulevard. Road resurfacing works were conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill occurred in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO:
A cleaner washing the pavement at the junction of Paterson Road and Orchard Boulevard. Road resurfacing works were conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill occurred in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A policeman trying to handle traffic on the morning of Jan 15, 2015, as road resurfacing works were conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill occurred earlier. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A policeman trying to handle traffic on the morning of Jan 15, 2015, as road resurfacing works were conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill occurred earlier. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Road resurfacing works being conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill took place in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Road resurfacing works being conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill took place in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Road resurfacing works being conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill took place in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Road resurfacing works being conducted along Paterson Road, adjacent to Orchard Boulevard, where an oil spill took place in the early hours of Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The police on Saturday said that officers "erred in assessment" when handling an oil spill on Paterson Road recently.

Superintendent Ho Yenn Dar, assistant director of the police’s Public Affairs Department, said in reply to a published forum letter: “The officers had erred in their assessment of the situation. They should have done more to manage the incident at the scene.”

He was replying to a letter from Mr Edwin Feng published on Jan 20, asking why officers did not stay to alert other motorists to the oil spill that happened at about 1.30am on Jan 15.

Supt Ho explained that the officers who arrived at the scene advised a truck driver who was trying to clean up the spill to place additional cones to divert traffic away from the spill. The officers then left the scene after assessing that no further assistance was needed. Subsequent calls to the police led to the closure of Paterson Road to facilitate the clean-up and repair works by authorities, he said.

“The Singapore Police Force takes a very serious view of this and will be looking further into the matter,” Supt Ho added.

The oil spill had led to the closure of all five lanes on Paterson Road heading towards River Valley, between Orchard Road and Orchard Boulevard. Traffic built up as far back as the Central Expressway and Pan-Island Expressway as motorists scrambled to find alternative routes. The road was fully reopened 13 hours after the oil spill.

Supt Ho also commended a couple who stayed behind to warn other motorists of the oil spill, after falling into the oil when when their motorbike skidded over it. Dance teacher Shan Gomes and her husband Kun Wai Kit stood by the road waving to oncoming motorcyclists, despite being drenched in black oil. They did so for half an hour, until a Land Transport Authority officer arrived.

A truck driver who was allegedly involved in causing the oil spill was arrested on Jan 17. The 53-year-old man was nabbed after being identified at the Woodlands Checkpoint. The truck driver was placed under arrest for causing hurt by a negligent act. If convicted, he faces a jail term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding $2,500, or both.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg