1 minute read
5 Mar 2015
2:58 pm

Weak concrete did not cause collapse: Singh


The Tongaat mall was always going to collapse, even if the concrete had the required strength and steel bars, Durban businessman Jay Singh told a commission of inquiry on Thursday.

FILE PICTURE: Emergency services personnel attend to the Tongaat Mall collapse, 19 November 2013, where the roof of the mall collapsed trapping construction workers underneath its rubble. Picture: Themba Khumalo

Singh told the commission investigating the structure’s collapse that he still believed the poor design by engineer Andre Ballack meant the mall would collapse.

“Even if it had the full bars or the strength it was still going to collapse,” he said.

The inquiry is tasked with investigating the partial collapse of the mall on November 19, 2013, in which two people were killed and 29 injured.

It is headed by labour department occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha.

Singh is the chief executive of Gralio Precast (Pty) Ltd which was building the mall.

The inquiry has heard that the beam that collapsed, called beam seven, only had seven of the required 19 steel bars. Many of the concrete samples taken from the site failed to meet the required strength of 30 megapascals.

Maphaha suggested that a column, identified as column 319, cracked, causing greater load on beam seven, which it could not support because of the weak concrete.

Singh maintained the problem was with column 243 which his experts had said was poorly designed. It was then that Singh said the mall would have collapsed in any event.

On Wednesday it emerged that Gralio may have been using old drawings while building the mall. Singh was ordered to bring the drawings his company used to the commission on Thursday.

Singh on Thursday said he had newer drawings, but because there had been no changes to the columns, the old drawings were used for the columns.

During re-examination by Singh’s lawyer Saleem Khan, Singh said he had trusted his foreman Ronnie Pillay, backed up by inspections by Ballack, to ensure the job was completed properly.

Asked if he accepted personal responsibility, he said he did not.

The inquiry continues.