89 BTO projects have resumed works; only 1 site pending approval: HDB

A worker at the Senja Valley BTO construction site on Aug 21, 2020. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Construction works have resumed at a total of 89 Build-To-Order (BTO) sites as of Monday, said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Friday (Aug 21).

Only one of the 90 BTO sites is currently pending approval from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) but the Housing Board told The Straits Times it is working with the contractor to safely resume works.

The HDB did not specify the site.

Construction works have resumed gradually since June 2, when the circuit breaker measures were eased, with companies having to adhere to strict safe management measures at work sites amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The HDB previously said some BTO projects would be delayed by about six to nine months beyond their original estimated completion dates because of material supply disruptions and manpower shortages.

There is no change to the estimated delay timeline, although the HDB will continue to look for ways to reduce the length of delays as works resume, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) and HDB in a joint statement on Friday.

Among the 89 BTO sites where construction works have restarted is the Senja Valley project in Bukit Panjang, which was launched in May 2016.

It consists of 789 units of two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room flats, and 202 public rental flats.

Sim Lian Construction, the main contractor for the project, had obtained the BCA's approval on July 4 and construction works have progressively resumed since July 17.

Sim Lian's project director Phay Morgan, 49, who oversees the project, said Senja Valley was originally four months ahead of schedule before the circuit breaker period kicked in on April 7.

Subsequent delays meant that the home owners will no longer be able to get their keys earlier than was originally anticipated. Instead, it is on track for its original estimated completion date in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Currently, about 220 workers - around 80 per cent of workforce required - are back on the project site. More workers are expected to resume work in the coming weeks, following the clearance of dormitories by the Ministry of Manpower.

On Friday, Mr Lee visited the Senja Valley site to observe some of the safe measures implemented to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 cases at construction sites.

These include the demarcation of zones within the site with dedicated rest areas and toilet facilities, and segregated work teams with staggered eating, resting and reporting time.

In a Facebook post later, Mr Lee thanked contractors for putting in "extra effort" to consult with the relevant agencies regularly, and to ensure detailed manpower planning, site preparation, as well as train their workers to maintain safe distancing.

"Abiding by these safety measures may lead to inevitable delays, but they are needed for everyone's health and safety," he said.

"I would like to reassure homeowners that HDB will continue to do their best to minimise these delays for all other BTO projects, while working with contractors to ensure Covid-safe compliance."

The HDB said flat buyers will be kept updated on the completion date of their BTO project through letters and via their My HDBPage account, as construction progresses.

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