Government portal may lead to contractors cutting corners: Contractor on viaduct collapse

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Contractor Clarence Chua has called out Government e-bidding system GeBIZ for possibly contributing to the Changi viaduct collapse, this Friday, that killed 1 foreign worker and injured 10 others.

GeBIZ is an online portal where contractors can log on and bid for government contracts. Chua highlighted that GeBIZ’s practice of posting the prices of all bids entered and the price of the winning bid for each contract online may lead contractors to cut corners as it has been revealed that the lowest bids overwhelmingly wins jobs.

“If you are a hungry contractor and have lost the bid, you now know what a winning price looks like. For a similar future job, you know what price you need to enter to potentially win it. And it would likely be lower than the previous winning price.”

Chua shared that he knows this because he has done the same thing countless time over the past 7 years: “My winning bids have consistently fallen over the years. The irony is that as my experience and quality climb (together with my cost), my rates and profit fall.”

Including a picture that shows that the winning bid for a contract is the lowest of all bids entered and half of the highest bid, Chua asserted:

“What do you do to secure profit margin in this case? You cut corners. You do things the expedient way. Then to move on from your paltry profit, you take on more and more jobs — each one lower-paying than the one before.”

He suggested that the Government should reconsider publicly announcing the price of the winning bid to vendors.

Since the viaduct collapse on Friday, it has come to light that the contractors, Kim Peow Contractors Pte Ltd, have a prior record of workplace safety lapses in the past, where in one case just two years ago in 2015, a worker died and three others were injured when a platform they were working on at the Yio Chu Kang Flyover collapsed.

On that incident, the Ministry of Manpower said that this was a “clear case of a company that does not take workplace safety seriously.” As of 3 July, the group had accumulated 25 demerit points and was blacklisted from January-April 2017, according to information from MOM’s website.

After this tragic accident, it is perhaps the best time to call out what I feel is an ill-advised practice by the…

Posted by Clarence Chua on Saturday, 15 July 2017

21 COMMENTS

  1. Constributor of this article , you are brave indeed ! Being in the race and you openly share your thoughts , one up to you but sad to say ………your next lowest bid will get you no where from henceforth……….

  2. It is not difficult to speculate that, most often than not, the decision makers behind GeBiz are but jiak-liao-bee executives who know close to nothing other than awarding GeBiz contracts based on tender price alone.

    • Yupe, they will select the lowest bid because if not they need to make justification paper. If they are lazy, just select the lowest bid lor, after all the superior will just sign it! Fire them all!

  3. It’s a game as old as time. But here’s a new twist: Do gahmen agencies still possess in-house expertise? Or everything all outsourced liao? If it’s the latter, then the national situation will be damn jialat, cos then even the so-called expert consultants will hoodwink their paymaster, esp if they were chosen based on lowest quote!

  4. At the end of the day no one cares… all the care for is their legal monthly salaries.

    Cheap is good, FREE even better.

    Go figure…

  5. Main contractors have to cut corners because Govt contracts basically includes everything under the sky to prevent them from making additional variation claims for unexpected or unforeseen circumstances. If contractors was to price for every inclusion in their tenders, they will never win any contract. So they take a lot commercial risks when they submit a competitive bid.

    One way of cutting corners is they in turn source or award subcontracts to cheaper subcontractors especially those from PRC. And a lot of these subcontractors turn to PRC and Bangla unskilled/inexperienced foreign workers as they are generally much cheaper but are infamous for their lack of safety awareness. That is why generally nowadays you hardly see sub-contractors employing skilled Thai or Malaysian workers in construction. That is how many projects can get abandoned midway because they are basically losing money due to high risks they have taken. So it is all in a vicious cycle.

  6. Any collapse in flyover responsible government must arrest the construction engineer n hold him liable, not the poor workers.

    Countries across the world would charged the construction engineer first for any mishap b4 going for the company directors in that order.

  7. It’s the liability of occupier. Occupier can’t tender for govt projects. Damage back charged to rc/falsework Contractors. Mirror Sister companies closes down. Another “ah seng” company pops up.

  8. Pay peanut, get monkey. Does it sound familiar? The committee awarding the contract should be accountable. Blame the root of the problem.

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