Shophouses in Bugis Village uneven

Four pre-war shophouses in Rochor Road have sunk slightly. Tenants say they first noticed the misalignment two years ago. However, engineers have deemed the building structurally safe and in good condition. The site has also stabilised, meaning there
Four pre-war shophouses in Rochor Road have sunk slightly. Tenants say they first noticed the misalignment two years ago. However, engineers have deemed the building structurally safe and in good condition. The site has also stabilised, meaning there is no more sinking, says the BCA.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Downward slope likely caused by different rates of soil settlement over the years: BCA

Visitors to the teen shopping haven Bugis Village may notice something off-kilter about the row of pre-war shophouses.

Four of them, in Rochor Road, have sunk slightly, causing the row to slope downwards.

The retail enclave, launched in 1991, comprises 34 restored three-storey pre-war shophouses, whose occupants include offices, music schools, tuition centres, restaurants and retail outlets.

Tenants said they first noticed the misalignment two years ago, when a large and visible crack - since mended - appeared at the time of construction work on the nearby Downtown Line.

"At first, we were very concerned. We're on the second floor. What if it collapsed?" said Madam Irene Chin, director of maid agency Comfort Employment.

The 54-year-old told her landlord about it and officers from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) have been coming by regularly to inspect the walls and ceilings, she said.

"Now, we're used to it already. So far, our customers have not complained," she added.

The downward slope of the shophouses is likely due to "differential soil settlement of the buildings over the years", where the soil sinks at different rates, the BCA said in response to queries from The Sunday Times.

The good news is that engineers have deemed the building structurally safe and in good condition. The site has also stabilised, meaning there is no more sinking, the BCA added.

Ms Christy Hiew, manager of beauty salon Solitaire Beauty An Instant, said the slope is not a concern to her, now that the MRT construction work has ended.

"We're just worried that when Rochor Centre gets demolished, it'll get worse," added the 47-year-old.

Rochor Centre is expected to be demolished next year to make way for the North-South Expressway.

CapitaLand Commercial Trust, the owner of Bugis Village, said an appointed structural engineer carries out five-yearly inspections of the building, in line with the BCA's requirement.

"The last inspection took place in September 2014 and the BCA had deemed Bugis Village to be structurally safe," said a spokesman.

When told about the slope, which is more visible from across the road, shopper Yogita Khatri, 38, who visits the building twice a month, shrugged it off.

"If it's safe and not too noticeable, then it's okay with me," said the housewife.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 04, 2015, with the headline 'Shophouses in Bugis Village uneven'. Print Edition | Subscribe