Falling parts in old blocks: Call for more checks

One of the cases was at Block 51, Circuit Road, where a piece of cladding board was dislodged and crashed to the ground on Wednesday.
One of the cases was at Block 51, Circuit Road, where a piece of cladding board was dislodged and crashed to the ground on Wednesday.PHOTOS: SHIN MIN

Cases over past two months prompt MP to file queries for Nov parliamentary sitting

Parts of housing blocks have fallen off on at least three occasions over the past two months, prompting at least one Member of Parliament to ask for more to be done to ensure the integrity of old housing blocks here.

Early on Wednesday morning, a piece of the facade of a block in Circuit Road fell and crashed to the ground in the wake of strong winds and rain. No one was injured.

The Housing Board said it was informed by the Marine Parade Town Council that a piece of calcium silicate cladding board had been dislodged from the facade of the Block 51, Circuit Road.

The board is part of the facade design and non-structural, HDB told The Straits Times yesterday.

The town council will carry out the necessary repairs and checks on the neighbouring blocks with similar facade designs, it added.

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling told ST that the block was built in 1965 and had, in 1997, undergone HDB's Main Upgrading Programme - a scheme to rejuvenate public housing estates.

One of the cases was at Block 51, Circuit Road, where a piece of cladding board was dislodged and crashed to the ground on Wednesday. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN

According to the town council, recent checks on the block and adjacent blocks - done as part of repair and redecoration works - found them to be in good condition, said Ms Tin.

Still, she said more should be done to protect residents of older housing estates. "I hope more checks can be done on the older blocks," she said.

She added that she has filed parliamentary questions for next month's sitting to address the issue. Among them is the question of whether the authorities "will consider another round of upgrading for old blocks".

In another incident, a false ceiling at the void deck of Block 807, Tampines Avenue 4, collapsed on Monday. No one was hurt.

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said termites had attacked the wooden frame that held up the false ceiling, causing it to give way.

"It was an isolated incident. It's not a systemic issue and it poses no danger to the integrity of the building," he told ST yesterday.

The termites were traced to the switch room, which houses the electrical circuit board, and found to have entered the room through underground cables. The switch room is inspected only once a year.

Mr Baey added that the town council is in the process of removing the false ceilings at the void decks of eight other nearby blocks to check for termite infestation.

These false ceilings, found near the lift landings, are similarly held up by wooden frames.

The frames will be replaced with metal ones to prevent a repeat of the incident.

He urged residents not to be unduly worried, adding that they should report any sightings of termites to the town council.

On Sept 25, a concrete sunshade outside a fourth-storey Tampines flat became dislodged and fell onto the sunshade on the third storey. No one was hurt and the building was later found to be structurally safe by HDB engineers.

The affected block - Block 201E, Tampines Street 23 - and three other blocks with similar sunshades were built in 1985.

The HDB later embarked on an ultrasound inspection of the sunshades, using equipment to help it "assess the condition of each sunshade, including the presence of reinforcement bars embedded within the sunshades".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Falling parts in old blocks: Call for more checks'. Print Edition | Subscribe