5 BTO projects face delays, 2 public projects affected as contractor Greatearth goes bust

The Build-To-Order projects include Sky Vista @ Bukit Batok, which was slated to be completed in the third quarter of next year. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Five ongoing Build-To-Order (BTO) housing projects will be delayed and two public projects face possible hold-ups as the main contractor for these sites has gone bust.

This will impact more than 2,900 home buyers across these affected BTO projects: Sky Vista @ Bukit Batok, Senja Heights and Senja Ridges in Bukit Panjang, and Marsiling Grove in Woodlands.

The fifth one is West Coast Parkview in Clementi, located opposite West Coast Park. This serves as one of the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) replacement sites for residents in Blocks 513 to 520 West Coast Road.

There are a total of 2,982 units in the five projects.

The two affected public projects are the Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium under the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Gali Batu bus depot under the Land Transport Authority.

On Wednesday (Aug 25), HDB informed the affected home buyers that the main contractors, two related companies called Greatearth Corporation and Greatearth Construction, had "run into financial difficulties" and the projects would be further delayed.

HDB did not specify the length of the delay but said home buyers would be kept updated on the situation once new contractors have been appointed and the construction schedules worked out.

Greatearth informed HDB last week that it was unable to complete the five BTO projects under its management, despite the government assistance provided, HDB said in a statement on Thursday.

HDB said it had explored possible options to resolve Greatearth's challenges, such as through advance payments, but Greatearth did not have the financial ability to continue operations.

Since Aug 20, all works at the five sites have stopped.

Prior to this, the progress of works was satisfactory and there was no sign of work slowdown or any sudden reduction of supplies or workers on site, added HDB.

New contractors will be appointed as soon as possible to complete the remaining works, said HDB.

Contingency contractors will be brought in to secure the work sites and carry out housekeeping and mosquito control until new contractors are appointed.

The 230-unit Senja Ridges in Bukit Panjang was earlier slated to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, while the 552-unit Senja Heights was due to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

The 257-unit Sky Vista @ Bukit Batok was slated to be completed in the third quarter of next year, the 1,246-unit Marsiling Grove in Woodlands in the fourth quarter of next year, and the 697-unit West Coast Parkview in the second quarter of 2023.

The completion dates for these projects had already been pushed back because of manpower and supply disruptions in the construction sector caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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"These delays will affect home buyers and disrupt their life plans and they will understandably be disappointed by this latest development," HDB said in its statement.

"HDB will do our utmost to bring the replacement contractor/s on board as soon as possible, to minimise the extent of any delays while ensuring that safety and quality are not compromised."

Greatearth is a home-grown company that has worked on more than 400 projects, including the Raffles Town Club, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Nanyang Technological University's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine campuses in Boon Lay and Novena.

Greatearth is a home-grown company that has worked on more than 400 projects. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

NEA told The Straits Times that it expects the completion date of the new crematorium complex in Mandai to be delayed, given the change of main contractor. It was originally set for the end of next year.

For the Gali Batu bus depot off Woodlands Road, LTA said it is currently in discussion with Gamuda Berhad Singapore, an engineering and construction company that was partnering Greatearth on the project, on how to ensure project continuity and minimise the impact on the completion timeline.

The bus depot, which will be able to accommodate around 500 buses, is currently around 15 per cent completed and is slated to be completed around 2024.

Greatearth has two other ongoing public projects - Bulim Square and the infrastructure in Jurong Innovation District - under JTC Corporation.

Both projects were joint ventures with other partners who have agreed to take over and fulfil the contract commitments, said JTC. "At this juncture, we do not foresee delays to the ongoing works resulting from Greatearth's financial difficulties," it added.

The news came as a shock to some home owners, who are now fretting over the uncertainty of their flats.

Mr Roger-Etienne Lee, 49, who works in the education sector, said he has now no choice but to stay put at his current three-room flat at Block 520 West Coast Road.

The block is part of the estate selected for Sers in 2016 and the replacement two-room flexi unit was supposed to be ready in the third quarter of next year.

However, the disruptions caused by Covid-19 have pushed the completion date to the second quarter of 2023, which will now be further delayed.

"I had opted to downgrade my flat size so that I can pay off my bank loan earlier... It's very frustrating because we don't know how we might be compensated," Mr Lee said.

"Some of us who are still living in the old Sers blocks have units in need of renovations, but because the completion date is unknown, we don't know if we should do renovation works now or hold off. We're stuck."

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