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Two-thirds of BTO projects completed during COVID-19 pandemic delayed no more than 6 months: HDB

SINGAPORE: Seventeen Build-to-Order (BTO) projects completed during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced delays of no more than six months, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Tuesday (Oct 12).

That accounts for about two-thirds of the 25 BTO projects - amounting to more than 16,000 homes - delivered since January last year.

The remaining eight projects were delayed between seven and 10 months, said HDB.

Including the pandemic-induced delays, the waiting time for the 25 projects ranged from 2.4 to 5.3 years, with an average waiting time of 4.1 years.

Border restrictions that disrupted global supply chains, work stoppages during last year's "circuit breaker" and "stringent but necessary" safe management measures affected the progress of construction projects, added HDB. 

COVID-19 MEASURES ON SITE

HDB detailed some of the assistance measures it rolled out for one of these projects - Bedok North Vale - in a media release.

Construction for the project, which comprises two blocks totalling 215 flats, started in May 2017.

It was originally scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2020, but all construction works came to a halt during the circuit breaker from April to June last year.

HDB said it worked with Bedok North Vale's contractor, China Construction Realty, to address challenges that hampered construction works from restarting after the circuit breaker ended.

For example, HDB expedited the approval process for two temporary living quarters to be built on site so that healthy migrant workers could be relocated from off-site dormitories.

This helped to reduce the risks of infection and the number of workers who needed to commute to the site on a daily basis, said the Housing Board. 

Temporary living quarters for migrant workers on site at Bedok North Vale. (Photo: China Construction Realty)

HDB also worked with the contractor to demarcate work zones that workers were not allowed to cross over. This allowed the contractor to "promptly identify and quarantine" close contacts when one worker tested positive for COVID-19.

 "As a result, works were allowed to resume on site after just three days, thus avoiding a longer delay and minimising disruptions to the overall construction timeline," it said.

HDB said it also conducted some virtual inspections that reduced the number of people required on site and complemented physical inspections.

Bedok North Vale was eventually completed in December last year, about six months after the original estimated completion date, said HDB.

As of end-September, more than 90 per cent of flat owners have collected their keys, it added.

"All our building contractors have been affected by the pandemic, albeit to different degrees depending on their companies’ resources and financial strength," said HDB.

The authority said it continues to check in regularly with building contractors and consultants to address any problems and give assistance.

HDB has also been engaging some key sub-contractors and suppliers of BTO projects to "widen our sources of feedback and pick up emerging issues early", it said.

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Source: CNA/dv(zl)

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