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Construction firm fined S$54,000 for damaging PUB water mains; highest amount to date

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Ground Instrumentation and Engineering damaged a water main 2.2m in diameter at Raffles Country Club (left), while Sato Kogyo damaged a water main 30cm in diameter in Upper Thomson Road.

[SINGAPORE] A construction firm has been handed the highest fine to date for damaging national water agency PUB's water mains while carrying out works at Raffles Country Club.

In a statement on Tuesday (July 2), PUB said that Ground Instrumentation and Engineering was on June 11 convicted of two charges and fined S$54,000.

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

Both companies are repeat offenders.

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

PUB said that Ground Instrumentation and Engineering damaged a water main, with a diameter of 2.2m, while carrying out soil investigation works at the country club.

Employees doing drilling works had punctured a hole in the pipe, which is biggest the water main to be damaged so far among all prosecuted cases.

Investigations revealed that the company did not consult PUB on the location of the water main, nor determine its exact alignment and depth before starting works.

The damage resulted in 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 centreline of a 2.2m diameter water main.

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 them 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 S$40,000 for damaging a 30cm diameter water main near the junction of Bukit Timah Road and Newton Circus.

For the other construction firm, Sato Kogyo, it caused damage to a 30cm diameter water main at Upper Thomson Road on Jan 4, 2017, during construction works for the Thomson-East Coast Line.

The works were for the Upper Thomson Station and tunnels for the MRT line.

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

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

The agency's 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, it added.

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

This was Sato Kogyo's second offence. Its first was in July 2013, when the company was fined S$40,000 for damaging a 30cm diameter water main at Bedok Reservoir Road.

Another charge for damaging an 80cm diameter water main along Nicoll Highway was taken into consideration.

In its statement, PUB said that 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 S$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 S$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.

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