Police conducted a search and seizure of 10 subcontractors working on concrete structures, hired by HDC (Hyundai Development Company), a company in charge of the construction of the Gwangju apartment building that collapsed on Tuesday. Seven months earlier, a building in redevelopment zone had collapsed, the construction of which was also conducted by HDC. Many point out that the failure to conduct a thorough investigation into the earlier case gave rise to the second deadly collapse. This time the investigation authority must conduct an exhaustive investigation and punish those who are accountable for the accident to prevent such tragedy.
Experts point to rushed concrete placement in freezing temperatures without hardening and curing as the cause of the accident. They are also suspicious of the likelihood that concrete and iron used in the construction site were defective. Accidents on the construction site occur for various reasons. For this reason, terms and conditions of the contract signed by contractors, subcontractors, and construction materials suppliers have to be thoroughly examined, and the quality of materials supplied also need to be checked. The investigation authority must review whether the construction proceeded in compliance with the construction plan and whether construction safety oversight was overlooked.
Police belatedly sought an arrest warrant yesterday for an executive of the HDC headquarters on the charge of illegally providing bidding information to a company that participated in demolition of a building that collapsed last June. There is a good reason to blame police for turning a blind eye towards those accountable for the accident. Another executive who was senior to the executive who provided bidding information reportedly has retired and is currently heading one of the contracting companies of the construction of the recently collapsed apartment building. The police conducted a seizure and search of the HDC headquarters last year, only to conclude that staff and executive of the company headquarters were not responsible for the accident. The police were criticized for having failed to pursue individuals who should have been held accountable for the accident. The apartment collapse could have been prevented had the police conduct a thorough investigation for the past accidents.
At the press meeting held on Tuesday, the chief of the HDC only gave a short apology and avoided answering questions. He might have intended to play it safe, but it is blameworthy for the contractor responsible for the accident to avoid being held accountable. It is certainly not a coincidence that accidents occur frequently at construction sites contracted by the country’s No. 9 construction company. If the police again fails to conduct rigorous investigation, it would be criticized for playing a part in construction safety accidents.