SINGAPORE: A four-storey building along Thomson Road has been acquired by the Government and will be demolished by the end of the year to facilitate the construction of the North-South Corridor (NSC).
The 57-year-old building, located at 68-74 Thomson Road opposite United Square shopping mall, comprises 12 residential units and four shops. The affected businesses include a Tanjong Rhu Pau outlet, Animal Infirmary Veterinary Clinic and a spa.
Its occupants had all moved out by February, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in a joint media release on Friday (Apr 16).
The owners of the units will receive compensation based on the market value of the acquired land as of Apr 16 - the gazetted date of acquisition - in line with the Land Acquisition Act.
The agencies said they will “work closely” with the affected owners, who will have to hand over their units by July, and assist them through the acquisition process.
The 776 sq m freehold property is located about 6m away from where excavation works for the Thomson stretch of the North-South Corridor tunnel will be carried out.
The contract for the construction of the 1km stretch was awarded in 2018 to a joint venture between Japanese firm Penta-Ocean Construction and French firm Bachy Soletanche Singapore, with a winning bid of S$795 million.
IMPACT OF CONSTRUCTION ON THE BUILDING
The building was constructed with a shallow foundation in 1964. In 1994, underpinning works was done, which involved propping one part of the building with piles, to strengthen the foundation after an adjacent building was demolished.
Advanced engineering studies conducted in 2013 had assessed the impact of the NSC construction work to be “manageable” on the building.
Early last year, qualified professional engineers appointed by the LTA conducted an impact assessment study of the building, which found that its foundation would need to be strengthened before the start of excavation works for the tunnel.
As part of safety measures during these strengthening works, LTA had assisted all occupants in moving out by February this year and securing alternative residences or places of business.
However, further tests conducted after they had moved out indicated that the building's concrete strength was lower than that needed to safely carry out the strengthening work.
This conclusion was supported by an independent inspection by the BCA, which found that it would be "impractical and risky" to carry out such strengthening works to withstand excavation works for the tunnel.
Mr Roger Ting, who owns one of the units in the building, told CNA he was shocked when he got the news of the acquisition at about 12.30pm on Friday.
He noted that some residents had left their belongings in the building as they thought they would be able to return after two years.
Mr Ting, who is an architect, said he understands the need to demolish the building for safety reasons, but asked if other alternatives had been explored.
He also asked if the demolition could be done without acquiring the land, as he believes the owners would be better compensated if the property was sold on the open market.
“We basically still need time to digest, and we are already going to meet with fellow owners tomorrow to discuss these issues, to find a win-win solution,” he said.
In a Facebook post, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor described the building’s acquisition and demolition as “necessary for the safety of the building occupants, businesses and the community”.
“The building will not be able to withstand the excavation works for the construction of the North-South Corridor (#NSC) tunnel nearby,” she wrote.
“Acquiring the building will thus be the safest option.”
READ: Work set to start on North-South Corridor viaduct between Sungei Seletar and Admiralty Road West
Construction of the North-South Corridor began in 2018.
The 21.5km expressway will better connect the northern and central parts of Singapore, serving motorists travelling between the city centre to towns such as Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.
It is expected to ease traffic on the Central Expressway (CTE) and will intersect various expressways, including the Seletar Expressway (SLE), Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and East Coast Parkway (ECP).
Originally conceived as the North-South Expressway in 2008, it was later re-envisioned as Singapore’s longest “transit priority corridor”, with dedicated bus lanes, pedestrian pathways and cycling routes in addition to roads for vehicular traffic.
In 2018, the iconic rainbow-coloured Rochor Centre building was demolished to make way for the North-South Corridor.
The project was previously scheduled for completion by 2026, but this has been pushed back by a year due to construction delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional reporting by Isabelle Lim