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Separate lives


Your account of the interim report on the collapse affecting Nicoll Highway in Singapore (NCE 23 September) rightly addresses the apparent lack of continuity through the design of the construction process.

I conjecture that the extreme anti-corruption climate in Singapore may contribute to this feature by awarding each element of a project separately, on the basis of cost, leading to fragmented projects with the resultant exposure to risk that is associated with any departure from traditional design/construction practices.

I also foresee considerable problems with other contracts of a design-and-build nature if new controls and expert 'proof-engineering' are to be applied retrospectively.

The lesson of civil engineering has always been that the costs of good innovative engineering are minute in relation to the direct and indirect costs of failure.

Sir Alan Muir Wood,

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