Prison HQ upgrade delayed

The new prison headquarters, slated to be ready in 2014, will now be completed only by the end of next year.
The new prison headquarters, slated to be ready in 2014, will now be completed only by the end of next year.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Singapore Prison Service's move to a new home has hit a hurdle.

Its $118.5 million prison headquarters at the Changi Prison Complex was expected to be completed by the end of 2014, but work has been delayed due to the financial woes of its original contractor, Sembawang Engineers and Constructors (SEC).

Now, it will be built only by the end of next year.

The new headquarters was supposed to hold four main buildings and several smaller ancillary buildings housing office facilities, a multi-purpose hall, a clubhouse and an auditorium.

This is an upgrade from its current headquarters, which is sharing the same compound as Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) along Upper Changi Road North. Score provides rehabilitation and aftercare services to inmates and ex-offenders.

In response to queries from The Sunday Times, Singapore Prison Service said it terminated the contract with SEC in November last year and awarded a new contract to another firm, Precise Development, for the completion of the project in July this year.

"The Singapore Prison Service terminated the contract with SEC to build the new Prison Headquarters in November 2015 due to its inability to complete the project milestones on time and satisfactorily," said a spokesman.

Singapore-based SEC was awarded the contract in 2012.

A local unit under Indian company Punj Llyod, SEC was reportedly in financial trouble due to factors such as losses from investments and not being able to secure any new contracts since December 2012.

The Sunday Times understands that SEC owes $280 million to $300 million in debt to banks and creditors. The company is currently under judicial management- where independent accountants are brought in under a court-supervised process in a last-ditch attempt to save the company from winding up.

This arrangement is expected to last till the end of next month.

When asked about the construction of the prison headquarters, a spokesman for Punj Llyod Group (the parent company of Punj Llyod and its Singapore units, including SEC), said it is not in a position to comment as SEC is now under judicial management.

Under the new contractor, the construction of the HQ is now about 70 to 80 per cent completed, The Sunday Times understands .

Apart from the construction of the prison HQ, SEC's contract with the Housing Board for the McNair Towers Build-To-Order (BTO) project was also terminated last year after the contractor showed signs of difficulty completing the project.

In 2009, SEC was also awarded a $378.2 million contract by the Land Transport Authority(LTA) to build stations and tunnels at Botanic Gardens and Stevens.

"LTA is in contact with the judicial manager regarding compensation for delay in carrying out some of the works," said its spokesman.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 20, 2016, with the headline 'Prison HQ upgrade delayed'. Print Edition | Subscribe