Falling concrete slab narrowly misses passers-by in Orchard
Two women escaped being injured by a slab of concrete that fell from a pedestrian bridge outside Orchard Plaza early yesterday morning.
Just minutes before the concrete fell, the women had walked under the bridge linking Cuppage Plaza and Orchard Plaza.
A witness, who wanted to be known only as Mr David, 48, said he had stepped out of a pub in Cuppage Plaza for a smoke when he heard a loud thud across the road, about three minutes after the two women walked past.
The incident happened at 3.20am and there were no reported injuries.
Mr David, who alerted The New Paper to the incident, said: "They were very lucky because their lives could have been lost.
"It was very sudden and I was astonished. I never expected it."
When TNP visited the site at around 11am yesterday, police had cordoned off the area surrounding the slabs of concrete and bent metal pieces.
The fallen debris was later covered with canvas sheets.
The area is a popular spot for smokers and for shop assistants at Orchard Plaza to chat.
At any one time, there would at least be seven to eight people gathered there, said Mr Ching Soon Huat, 54, a shop assistant at Orchard Plaza.
Mr Ching said in Mandarin: "I smoke there every day, so this incident frightened me.
"I've seen cracks and water leaking from the bridge before, but I never expected this to happen."
Mr Ching and another shop owner, Mr Dinesh Nandwani, 43, said that they have seen people working on the bridge before, but it is unclear what they were doing.
A spokesman for the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said that the incident involved fallen cladding measuring about 3m by 1.8m at the pedestrian overhead bridge to Orchard Plaza.
Cladding is the application of one material over another to provide a layer intended to control the infiltration of weather elements or for aesthetic purposes.
"BCA engineers have inspected the damage and assessed that the pedestrian overhead bridge is structurally safe for members of the public to continue to use," said the BCA spokesman.
BCA directed the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to immediately cordon off the area directly below the pedestrian overhead bridge, which has similar cladding.
The spokesman said that an engineer will carry out investigations, recommend rectification measures and follow up with the repair works.
An LTA spokesman said: "For public safety, LTA will remove the remaining cladding and work is expected to be completed within the next two days."
Mr Dinesh said: "For us, the shop is like our second home because we easily spend more than 12 hours there daily."
"It was fortunate that the incident happened very early in the morning and no one was hurt."