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Lee Bee Wah hits out at lift upgrading delay

MP would recommend that the two construction firms be barred from future projects unless they deliver by end-Jan. -ST
Walter Sim

Thu, Jan 10, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah on Monday issued an ultimatum to two construction firms that have failed to meet deadlines for her ward's lift upgrading projects.

She told The Straits Times she would not hesitate to recommend that they be barred from future projects unless they deliver by the end of this month, after a four-month delay.

She said: "Most importantly, I hope my residents can enjoy the lifts by Chinese New Year," she said. "If they can't finish, I will shoot a letter to the minister to bar them. This is the final straw."

The project to build 24 new lifts for 16 blocks in Nee Soon GRC started in October 2011, and was initially scheduled for completion by the third quarter of last year.

But currently, only nine lifts are operational, prompting the MP to take to Facebook to vent her frustration, and call for a meeting at the Housing Board on Monday evening.

At around noon, Ms Lee said in a Facebook post: "I am not happy with the progress of LUP (Lift Upgrading Programme). Going to meet up with HDB, Surbana and contractor. Is there really (a) shortage of workers or (is it) just lame excuses?"

The project is run by main contractor Kuan Aik Hong Construction and lift contractor Sigma, the two firms that have incurred her wrath. It is being overseen by building and development consultancy Surbana.

Ms Lee said: "It's the lift contractor I'm mainly unhappy about - I've been chasing them and they've been telling me there were manpower issues."

But she added that both contractors were at fault as they should be working together to foresee and circumvent issues in their planning, which had indicated detailed dates.

The Straits Times understands that 14 of the remaining 15 lifts have been installed and will need only to be tiled, a role that will be undertaken by the main contractor. The senior manager of the project, Mr C.L. Goh of Kuan Aik Hong, declined to comment except to say that "everything is settled".

But site supervisor Li Tao said in Mandarin that they "cannot control" the delays due to procedural matters. "We must proceed step by step. If there's a missing step on the lift contractor's end, we cannot continue."

He added that he expects the work to be completed in two weeks. The lift contractor was unavailable for comment.

Residents said they were baffled by the slow progress.

"I see the workers around, working for a few days and then, they stop for a few days," said senior aircraft technician Dhalabalan Nair, 64. "They could work a lot faster."

To avoid delays in estate works, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Chia Shi-Lu said: "Everything should be built into the schedule and there should not be any unnecessary delays."

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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