McNair Towers BTO project contractor terminated, HDB seeking new contractor

HDB terminated its contract with the contractor for McNair Towers. PHOTO: MCNAIR TOWERS/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The contractor for new Housing Board (HDB) project McNair Towers has been dropped, a year before the Boon Keng project's estimated completion date.

The HDB has terminated its contract with Sembawang Engineers and Constructors Pte Ltd, and is now in the process of seeking a new contractor.

But McNair Towers' estimated completion date - the fourth quarter of next year - has not been affected, the HDB told The Straits Times.

This is not the first time that a contractor for a public housing project has been dropped.

In the last three years, "a few" contracts were terminated when contractors went bust, said the HDB without providing a specific number.

However, none of those cases resulted in delayed completion and the projects were delivered as committed, the HDB added.

McNair Towers, on McNair Road in Boon Keng, was launched in the May 2012 Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise. Sembawang Engineers and Constructors Pte Ltd was appointed as the contractor that November.

The HDB said it "monitors the progress and performance of development of its projects closely". In the middle of this year, it observed that the firm "appeared to show signs of difficulty in completing the project".

"Despite HDB's assistance to facilitate their work, the progress of work was still unsatisfactory," said an HDB spokeswoman.

Last month, construction work on McNair Towers stopped entirely. The HDB decided to terminate the contract so that a new contractor could be brought on board quickly to finish the work.

McNair Towers consists of 861 units across four blocks, of which 270 are studio apartments, 115 are three-room flats and 476 are four-room flats.

Four-room flat buyer Maverick Tok, 37, said he was not worried about the completion schedule but added: "The buyer's concern is the quality."

Mr Tok, who works in sales, said he hoped the contractor which takes over will be able to maintain a high standard of quality.

Flat buyer Satinderpal Singh Sandhu, 34, shared the same concern, noting that the units at McNair Towers are classified as premium flats. "It is hoped that with the pause in the project and another builder stepping in that quality and workmanship will not suffer," he said.

Mr Singh, a sales manager, also noted that most HDB projects are completed months before the estimated completion date. If not for the stoppage of work, homeowners could have received their keys earlier, he said. "There is a financial impact on buyers like myself who are renting an apartment. We will have to extend our lease and pay for additional months."

He hopes the HDB will give residents regular updates on the project's progress.

McNair Towers was the only HDB project handled by Sembawang Engineers and Constructors Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Indian construction and engineering conglomerate Punj Lloyd.

The firm's other projects include Stevens station in the second phase of the Downtown Line, which is set to open on Dec 27.

Flat buyers can track a project's construction progress and latest estimated completion date via MyHDBPage on the HDB's website.

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