BCA to tighten building facade inspection rules; eyes further cut in foreign manpower

Dr John Keung, 64, will relinquish the post as chief executive as part of the BCA leadership renewal process.
Dr John Keung, 64, will relinquish the post as chief executive as part of the BCA leadership renewal process. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will soon introduce an enhanced regulatory framework to ensure the facades and exterior features of buildings are well-maintained.

This will apply to both public and private buildings to make sure facades are "regularly inspected and remain properly secured".

BCA chief executive Dr John Keung said courses on facade inspection will be launched later this year.

"Through normal wear and tear, older façades will need added maintenance... We hope to build up the industry's capability in this area quickly to ensure public safety," added Dr Keung, who will step down as chief executive next month.

In addition, the BCA is also working on a new "design for maintainability framework" to ensure that buildings are easy and safe to maintain.

The BCA also wants to slash the number of rank and file foreign construction workers at work sites here by 20 to 30 per cent by 2020.

This is part of its continuing efforts to "reshape" the sector's workforce in line with a government push for greater productivity and innovation.

About 300,000 of these workers are employed in the construction sector currently. "We aim to do that, to cut it down by 20 to 30 per cent... whoever is left for this rank and file workers, will be the higher skilled workers," said Dr Keung in an interview last week.

About four in 10 of these workers are qualified as higher skilled workers now. BCA hopes more of them can be trained to push this number up to 50 to 60 per cent by 2020.

Dr Keung, 64, will relinquish the post as chief executive as part of the BCA leadership renewal process. He is stepping into the role of dean of the BCA Academy from June 1, following 11 years at the BCA itself.

He believes there is a good opportunity to achieve even higher productivity gains in the years to come, a task which CEO-designate Mr Hugh Lim will continue to drive.

Another aim is to have 40 per cent of building projects here constructed using what's called design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) capabilites by 2020, up from 10 per cent now. DfMA involves moving as much on-site construction work to off-site prefabrication as possible.

As BCA Academy dean, Dr Keung's priority will be to further drive green building practices and build up the "green-collar" talent pool, with workers who are knowledgable in DfMA solutions as well as digital processes such virtual design and construction.

"We want to set our industry on this particular path to the point of no return. We cannot go back to our old ways," he added.

Dr Keung said a couple of old buildings at the BCA Academy will be torn down to make way for a seven-storey and a 20-storey building, which will provide space for more classrooms and research and development facilities.

The two new buildings - expected to be ready in two to three years - will also be "demonstration projects" to test different energy efficient technologies.