Define HDB, town council roles more clearly

It has become evident that the roles and responsibilities of the Housing Board and the town councils could, and should, be more clearly defined ("HDB, town councils and who best to run estates"; Jan 19).

We may find it useful to consider the distinction between property developers and managing agents.

In this analogy, the HDB fills the role of property developer - it plans, designs and builds public housing estates, in conjunction with a constellation of construction contractors and component suppliers.

The town council, meanwhile, is the managing agent, entrusted with the continued upkeep of the estate once it is completed, including the provision of municipal services and arranging routine maintenance.

Under this framework, we can determine that when incidents are caused by inherent structural and equipment defects, improper installation or shoddy workmanship, the onus is on the HDB to apply corrective action.

Examples of this include premature failure of roof tiles and building facades as well as design deficiencies in the chosen lift models.

This arrangement makes sense, especially when we consider how town councils may change hands after each election or have their boundaries redrawn. It is illogical for an organisation to assume blame for problems that existed before it took over.

Conversely, when a problem is traced to inadequate maintenance procedures or slipshod retrofitting after the initial completion of the structure, the town council should be held accountable.

To ensure the continued safety and well-being of estate residents, a more concrete framework should be put in place.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi