Building firm GIE fined $54k for damaging water main

Above: Last year's incident at Raffles Country Club involving Ground Instrumentation and Engineering resulted in the loss of 890,000 litres of potable water. Left: In 2017, Sato Kogyo damaged a water main in Upper Thomson, resulting in the loss of 72
In 2017, Sato Kogyo damaged a water main in Upper Thomson, resulting in the loss of 720,000 litres of potable water. PHOTO: PUB
Above: Last year's incident at Raffles Country Club involving Ground Instrumentation and Engineering resulted in the loss of 890,000 litres of potable water. Left: In 2017, Sato Kogyo damaged a water main in Upper Thomson, resulting in the loss of 72
Last year's incident at Raffles Country Club involving Ground Instrumentation and Engineering resulted in the loss of 890,000 litres of potable water. PHOTO: PUB

Another firm, Sato Kogyo, fined $48k for similar offence; both are repeat offenders

A construction firm has received the biggest fine to date for damaging a PUB water main.

In a statement yesterday, the national water agency said that Ground Instrumentation and Engineering (GIE) was convicted of two charges and fined $54,000 on June 11 in connection with works at Raffles Country Club.

Another construction firm, Sato Kogyo, was fined $48,000 on June 19 for a similar offence in Upper Thomson Road. It faced one charge under the Public Utilities Act.

Both firms are repeat offenders.

The incidents involving the two companies led to a combined water loss of more than 1.6 million litres of potable water, enough to fill about two-thirds of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

PUB said that while drilling during soil investigation works, GIE employees punctured a hole in a 2.2m diameter water main on Aug 27 last year. The damage they caused to the water main was the biggest so far among all prosecuted cases.

Investigations revealed that the company did not consult PUB on the location of the water main or determine its exact alignment and depth before starting work. The damage resulted in the wastage of 890,000 litres of potable water.

 
 

Under the Public Utilities (Protection of Water Pipes Infrastructure) Regulations, companies are required to have an approved plan when carrying out soil investigation works within 20m laterally from the centre line of a water main 2.2m in diameter.

The plan must be endorsed by a professional engineer, with a method statement, impact assessment and a proposal of how the excavation works will be carried out and monitored.

PUB added that the company failed to submit a plan to the agency and did not take all reasonable precautions to avoid damaging the water main.

This was the company's second offence. In June 2016, it was fined $40,000 for damaging a water main 30cm in diameter near the junction of Bukit Timah Road and Newton Circus.

The other construction firm, Sato Kogyo, caused damage to a water main 30cm in diameter in Upper Thomson Road on Jan 4, 2017, during construction works for the Upper Thomson Station and tunnels for the Thomson-East Coast Line.

Thirteen residents in the nearby Upper Thomson and Bright Hill estates had their water supply disrupted because of the damage, with 720,000 litres of potable water lost.

PUB said it had to deploy a water wagon and provide water bags on site to ensure that the water supply to residents was not disrupted.

Investigations showed that Sato Kogyo had failed to provide proper support for the water main after the removal of soil cover.

The company did not install the necessary support structures, as stipulated in the procedures for carrying out manual excavation work, PUB added.

As a result, the water main was dislodged at its joint because of the lack of proper support.

 
 

This was Sato Kogyo's second offence. The first was in July 2013, when the company was fined $40,000 for damaging a water main 30cm in diameter in Bedok Reservoir Road. Another charge for damaging a water main 80cm in diameter along Nicoll Highway was taken into consideration.

In its statement, PUB said it takes a serious view of such offences that result in water wastage.

Offenders who damage a PUB water main or connecting pipe with a diameter of 30cm or more could be fined up to $200,000, jailed up to three years, or both.

Those who carry out works within the vicinity of water mains without an approved plan from PUB could be fined up to $10,000.

PUB added that contractors should refer to its advisory on how to prevent damage to water pipe infrastructure before carrying out any construction works.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2019, with the headline 'Building firm GIE fined $54k for damaging water main'. Print Edition | Subscribe