(3rd LD) Gov’t seeks 10-month biz suspension for GS Engineering over parking garage collapse

The land ministry said Sunday it will push for a 10-month business suspension for GS Engineering & Construction Corp. over the collapse earlier this year of a parking garage blamed on a lack of reinforcing rods in columns supporting the garage.

On April 29, the roof of an underground parking garage at an apartment complex collapsed while being built by the major builder in Geomdan-dong in the northwestern city of Incheon.

GS was blamed for the accident as it was found to have failed to use sufficient metal reinforcing rods and poorly managed the overall construction process.

The ministry will push to suspend its operations for eight months under the land minister's authority and ask the Seoul city government to impose an additional two-month business halt for negligent safety checks.

The government plans to seek either a business suspension or a license cancellation for subcontractors and design companies involved in the construction project.

The possible punitive measures will be enforced after a government commission, involving experts, wraps up due hearings and deliberation procedures, which will take around three to five months.

The ministry also decided to ask for a police probe into the case for possible violations of the law by the related firms.

Some buildings at the Geomdan complex turned out to have not met standards in terms of the concrete strength due to the suspected shoddy compaction process, the ministry said.

"I feel a heavy responsibility for causing public concern," Land Minister Won Hee-ryong said. "We will take a zero-tolerance stance on any illegalities committed by those responsible for such incidents."

GS earlier said it will rebuild all 17 apartment buildings at the complex.

After the ministry's announcement, GS once again issued an apology for the collapse, while saying it will "carefully review what caused the case and whether the planned restrictive moves are appropriate, and fully explain" its stance and other details during the upcoming sessions.

In the wake of the collapse, the ministry carried out an inspection on 83 sites of construction led by GS across the country, and no issues were detected in terms of the use of metal bars or the strength of the concrete, the ministry added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency