UPDATE at 10:30am, 19 July: The
nine SCDF DART officers have been discharged from SGH after being
treated for chemical burns, according to the SCDF.
The tragedy at a Singapore subway construction site that left two foreign workers dead and eight others injured was a “localised accident”, albeit serious, said Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin on Wednesday evening.
Speaking to reporters as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) wrapped up its search and extrication operation, Tan stressed that there are no safety concerns in the vicinity as well as for the rest of the Downtown Line (DTL) Bugis MRT project, which will continue.
“The public can be reassured there are no causes of concern in terms of the public infrastructure, the buildings, roads and so on in the surrounding areas,” he said.
“The formworks gave way where the workers were constructing the roof slabs,” he explained, adding that such construction work is neither complex nor uncommon.
The Building & Construction Authority has revoked the construction permit for the DTL Bugis interchange while further investigations are carried out, the standard procedure when an accident takes place.
“MOM will carry out a detailed investigation on what happened and why to make sure that we learn the correct lessons to make sure that this incident doesn’t happen again,” Tan said.
He added that it was “not appropriate at this stage” to point fingers at who should be held accountable, which the authorities will address publicly in due course.
He also expressed condolences over the two deceased workers, both nationals of the People's Republic of China.
Another eight workers suffered minor injuries, five of whom have since been discharged from Raffles Hospital.
Nine SCDF personnel also sustained chemical burns on their lower arms in the seven-hour extrication process and have since been sent to the Singapore General Hospital.
Tan emphasised that their top priority remains the well-being of the injured workers and their families.
Comparing the accident with the high-profile Nicoll Highway collapse in 2004 which killed four workers, Tan said that while both are serious this latest incident was less severe in terms of scale and complexity.
“This is not like the Nicoll Highway (accident). The construction here is something that contractors have been doing on a very regular basis not only on this project but on other projects as well. It’s a very different scale altogether.”
The DTL construction mishap came on the back of a major fire that took place earlier on Monday at the East Village Hotel at Marine Parade, where construction work was also going on.
Of the 50 civilians evacuated from the fire, nine were sent to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation. Two firefighters were also injured in the process.
Tan added that the DTL accident serves as a “timely reminder that safety remains paramount”.
“Safety is something that we should not take for granted even though we’re doing the same things day in and day out. Accidents can still happen,” he cautioned.
Coincidentally, the minister gave a speech on workplace safety at the Workplace Safety and Health Awards ceremony held on Tuesday evening, when he congratulated winners who achieved excellent workplace safety and health standards.
Among the list of winners of the Silver Award was Soletanche Bachy France which, through a joint venture with Koh Brothers, is in charge of the construction of DTL1 Bugis station and its tunnels.
The contract, which was signed with the Land Transport Authority in 2008, is worth approximately S$582 million.
The DTL will be the fifth MRT line in Singapore and is due to be opened in three stages – 2013, 2015 and 2017 respectively.
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