BCA to open two centres on Aug 17 to help construction companies restart work

The two centres, called "restart clinics", will open on Aug 17. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Construction companies which need help with applying to restart work can now go to two help centres set up by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

The two centres, called "restart clinics", will open on Aug 17 and are housed at BCA's premises in Braddell and Jurong East. They will operate on weekdays from 8.30am to 12.30pm, and from 1.30pm to 5pm.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced this in a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 14) after visiting the Cuscaden Reserve condominium worksite in Cuscaden Road.

Mr Lee said careful planning and management were key in allowing main contractor TPS Construction to resume work.

He noted that with five sub-contractors doing various works, TPS Construction had to make sure that workers from different teams did not intermingle.

This involved segregating the worksite into zones and implementing staggered timings for the start and end of work, among other safe distancing measures.

The site also features temporary quarters for workers and staff, as well as a sickbay and isolation room.

"However, the challenges we have faced in the last few months have been unprecedented, and we know it has been an extremely difficult time for everyone in the construction sector, and their families," said Mr Lee.

The two restart clinics are an example of how BCA is working closely with the industry to help firms, he said.

Temporary quarters for workers and staff set up by TPS Construction at the Cuscaden Reserve condominium worksite. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Minister for National Development Desmond Lee (left) during a visit to the Cuscaden Reserve condominium work site on Aug 14. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Companies can make an appointment by calling 1800-3425-222 or through an online form.

On Wednesday, the authorities gave the green light for around 40,000 additional workers to restart work without their employers needing to apply for approvals.

The change applies to jobs that require relatively few workers, such as lift maintenance and renovation work.

For example, employers can now begin work even if their workers are housed at more than 10 addresses after the BCA temporarily eased the rule.

TPS Construction was already able to resume work in a significant way in early July owing to the various safe distancing measures it put in place, but the easing of restrictions is still a welcome boost, the company's managing director Sharine Teo said.

This is because a construction site will typically see workers from many different addresses interact with each other, as a main contractor like TPS Construction would have to engage sub-contractors who handle more specialised tasks like painting or installing air-conditioning.

"You definitely need more than 10 sub-contractors for all these tasks. And if the sub-contractors cannot come in because of the restrictions then these parts of the work will get stuck," said Ms Teo.

"What really helped us was the fact that our workers are cross-trained in a variety of tasks, and once all of them were healthy they were able to start work with just a supervisor from a sub-contractor overseeing them, for example."

TPS Construction also houses all its 250 foreign workers in a single location, which meant all could resume work once their accommodation was cleared of Covid-19.

Ms Teo said the Covid-19 pandemic represents the biggest challenge faced by her company in 30 years in the industry.

"Now everybody has to work together to make sure we are safe, even if productivity is lower. At least there is work, and there is income," she said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.