LTA confirms third delay in Bukit Brown road project; new completion deadline by early 2019

The 2km road has been delayed because the main contractor is facing financial difficulties.
The 2km road has been delayed because the main contractor is facing financial difficulties.ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN
The 2km road has been delayed because the main contractor is facing financial difficulties.
The 2km road has been delayed because the main contractor is facing financial difficulties.ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN

Work hit by contractor's financial issues; road to be ready by Q1 of 2019 - 3 years behind schedule

A road project fraught with issues from the start has been hit by yet another setback. The Bukit Brown road will not be completed by next month as projected.

It is the second delay since the project was announced in 2011. First slated to be completed by mid-2016, and then end-2017, the 2km road that cuts a swathe through a cemetery has been delayed because the main contractor is in financial difficulty.

In response to press queries, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday said it expects the road to be partially opened by the third quarter of next year, and fully opened by the first quarter of 2019 - nearly three years behind schedule.

The southbound section towards Adam Flyover will open first, followed by the the northbound section towards MacRitchie Viaduct.

Singapore-listed civil engineering group Swee Hong was awarded a $134.7 million contract to build the dual four-lane road in August 2013, but soon faced cash-flow problems. In February 2015, it filed an application in the High Court to propose a debt restructuring plan for its creditors.

Last year, it raised up to $8 million by issuing new shares and warrants to Readymade Steel Singapore, a company owned by Indian infrastructure group Kridhan Infra. Readymade's subsidiary, KH Foges, is a sub-contractor of Swee Hong.

In July this year, Swee Hong announced that it had repaid its debts.

But its financial woes had already caused a slowdown in the Bukit Brown road project. When The Straits Times checked on Monday, the works looked nowhere near completion, even if part of a raised portion was taking shape. Diversion works along Lornie Road - believed to be for an underpass section of the new road - remained in place after several months.

A retiree in his 70s said those living in Sime Road were told the works would now take up to late next year to complete. "I'm not even sure it can be done by then," he said. "It is already causing us a lot of inconvenience." Besides the noise and dust, he said cracks had formed in a number of houses. "My house now leaks when it rains."

Besides Swee Hong's problems, the project was also held up by the exhumation of graves, which took almost a year longer than anticipated, the LTA said.

The new road - which the LTA calls Lornie Highway - links the MacRitchie Viaduct to Adam Road via the 95-year-old Bukit Brown Cemetery. LTA said the road was necessary to cater to future traffic, which is expected to increase by 20 to 30 per cent by 2020.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Bukit Brown road hit by another delay'. Print Edition | Subscribe