PIE viaduct collapse: CPG hires engineers with no or limited experience in designing bridges

It was reported in the media yesterday (3 Dec) that the Indonesian engineer, Arianto Tjandra, who is a PR here, was sentenced by the Court on Monday (2 Dec) to 86 weeks’ jail. He was also fined $10,000.

The Court had found him responsible for the collapse of the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) viaduct occurred in July 2017. The judge noted that the potential for harm in this case was high.

The tender for the viaduct construction was awarded to Or Kim Peow Contractors (OKP), a firm run by members of a family linked to PA grassroots. OKP then outsourced the design work to CPG Consultants, an entity of CPG Corporation (CPG). CPG was formerly the Public Works Department of Singapore. It was corporatised in 1999 and put under Temasek Holdings. In 2003, it was sold off to Australia’s Downer EDI Group and in 2012, the Australians sold it off to China Construction Technology Consulting Co Ltd (CCTC).

It was reported that Tjandra from CPG, was the lead person responsible for designing and preparing the building work plans for the viaduct. In court, it was established that he knew his team of engineers was inexperienced in designing bridges, but failed to give guidance or instructions to his team.

The court heard that Tjandra had a team of five design engineers with no or limited experience in bridge design involving the design of the support structures used in the viaduct:

  1. Duong Khanh – designed only one cross head for a two-span bridge in one prior project
  2. Liu Xiayu – designed supporting structures for only one span in one prior project
  3. Wang Peng – first project involving the design of support structures for supporting loads
  4. Cao Qinghao – designing bridge structure for the first time
  5. William Wang – designing bridge structure for the first time

None of the five knew how to do the calculations and, in fact, their calculations were wrong, said the prosecution. Even after Tjandra was aware of the wrong calculations made by his inexperienced engineering team, he failed to take necessary remedial steps. As a result, the viaduct collapsed which killed a worker and injured 10 others.

It’s not known if Tjandra’s PR would be cancelled by ICA after his release from jail or perhaps the government might feel that he is too valuable to Singapore’s economy to take away his PR.

In any case, OKP group managing director Or Toh Wat was earlier given a discharge by the court not amounting to an acquittal in July for all his three charges in relation to the viaduct collapse.

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