Coronavirus: BTO projects to be among first to restart after circuit breaker

16 May 2020
Property News
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A work site for the Housing Board’s Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Yishun, taken on 7 Apr 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

Build-To-Order (BTO) flats will be among the projects to be prioritised as the construction sector gradually resumes work from June 2, after having ground nearly to a halt during circuit breaker measures to slow the spread of Covid-19.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said at a press conference yesterday that he understands people are anxious about the status of their projects. "It could be public housing, it could be private condominiums, it could be a whole range of projects," he said.

On the priority list are projects that cannot be left idle for too long due to safety concerns, as well as critical and time-sensitive projects, such as MRT works and the deep tunnel sewerage system.

But safety considerations remain most important, he stressed. "Even if a project is most meritorious of resuming work, if the contractor is unable to show that all of these safeguards are doable... then they will not be able to resume work, no matter how important that project is."

He added that the Government will consider allowing the restarting of projects not on the approved priority list, but which can show that they have the requisite safeguards in place.

These include putting in place systems to track the health status of every worker daily, ensuring that workers on the same project are staying together in the same accommodation, and providing dedicated transport with safe distancing measures to and from worksites.

Said Mr Wong: "If the contractor comes along and says, 'Look, you have not prioritised me to be at the start of the list, but I am ready because I have a temporary dorm on the worksite that can house this many workers, I am ready with all the precautions that you have required in your checklist, I tick all the boxes and I can show you' - then we will certainly be prepared for that particular contractor to start work as well."

The minister said the authorities will also give priority to projects where renovations had been ongoing and then were suspended because of the circuit breaker. New renovations, however, will have to be considered separately.

The first projects to restart will help the authorities and contractors "iron out all the teething issues on the ground", he said. "At the same time, we are also beefing up our inspection teams on the ground, so that we will be able to inspect and audit all the measures that the contractors are putting in place."

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