With 83% of LTA’s projects awarded to the lowest bids, will roads, viaducts or MRT structures collapse in future?

​In time to come, Minister Lim Double Ass will likely be proven wrong: cheaperer is not betterer.

The collapse of an uncompleted viaduct in Changi last week has shocked Singaporeans. This should not have happened in Singapore but it did and soon there will be an accountability wayang. ​Thanks to social media, embarrassing information such as OKP’s link to PAP grassroots has been disclosed.  OKP not only placed the lowest bid but had been awarded the contract 2 months after a fatal accident had occurred at one of its construction sites.

The collapse of the uncompleted Changi viaduct might have be a blessing in disguise; many fatalities could have resulted had it been in use.

According to publichouse.sg, 83% of LTA contracts were awarded to the lowest bidder in the last 10 years.

Companies with lowest winning bids include:
A company which constructed the Circle Line; it was working on the Nicoll Highway tunnel when it collapsed.
Keppel-led consortium which constructed the constantly-breaking down Bukit Panjang LRT; the entire LRT may end up in the scrapyard after less than 20 years.(2 images above from the same link)

Are Singaporeans supposed to have blind faith in companies with proven poor safety records? Were there no other suitable companies or was LTA simply trying to cut costs at the expense of our safety?

The problem with construction projects is that problems may surface years or decades after their completion. A recent case – unrelated to LTA – was the collapse of a sunbreaker at Block 201E in Tampines; the block was completed some 3 decades ago.

An issue with LTA (and other government agencies) is there is very little/no oversight of contractors. Contractors affiliated to PAP grassroots may be one reason why career civil servants are forced to have blind faith in them. But the biggest issue is there are simply too many projects ongoing simultaneously in every corner of Singapore.

With little/no oversight, how do we know whether foundations of MRT stations were properly constructed?
Are underground MRT stations really ponding-proof?
Are MRT platforms and escalators designed to accommodate increasing loads due to more frequent major disruptions?

Could LTA provide evidence that it had sufficient manpower for oversight of completed projects?

It appears public safety has been compromised after once in 50 years incidents such as parts of a pedestrian bridge falling off in December last year.
And sinkholes – never an issue a decade earlier – are also not an uncommon occurrence anymore.
sinkhole-swallows-truck-in-singapore-april-24-20142.jpgConstruction and civil engineering companies cut costs by employing cheaper foreign labour or through the use of cheaper inferior construction materials, especially those from China. Cutting costs allow these companies to place very low bids to secure a contract.

By awarding contracts to the lowest bidder almost all the time, LTA could have been courting trouble. While another infrastructure may not collapse tomorrow, there is no guarantee it will not happen in future with our cheaperer = betterer policy. 😦

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One Response to With 83% of LTA’s projects awarded to the lowest bids, will roads, viaducts or MRT structures collapse in future?

  1. Confused says:

    To be fair we must agree that different approach adopted in evaluating the tender results bring about different sets of problems.

    Awarding to lowest is by far the better one that it gives little room for parties awarding the contract to manipulate awards to some favoured parties that cost more tax monies.

    There is protocol in place to carry out all the due diligence checks on the financial standing of the contractors quoted lowest. However, one need to stick their neck out in order not to award to the lowest through valid justifications. It is something that takes a lot of guts and supports from the seniors.

    On the other, it also gives avenue fo parties to corrupt by wrong justifications. It’s a tough call.

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