Grassroots leader, AHPETC at odds over upgrading

A grassroots leader in Aljunied GRC has gone public with a disagreement between his organisation and the Workers' Party-run town council over a lack of upgrading for blocks in Kaki Bukit this year.

Kaki Bukit Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC) chairman David Poh posted on notice boards within the ward a letter to residents stating that the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) had not nominated the area for a national upgrading programme this year.

Responding yesterday, the town council said it has to consider the age of the blocks and be fair to all residents in ensuring that all wards run by the council are nominated for such upgrading projects over time.

In his letter, dated May 3, Mr Poh said Kaki Bukit was not among the three Aljunied projects selected by the Housing Board for the Home Improvement Programme (HIP). Mr Poh said the relevant town council must nominate projects before they are selected and that AHPETC did not nominate any such projects for Kaki Bukit this year. The council's nominations must be supported by the ward's grassroots adviser.

"The CCC understands that many of our residents are facing problems like spalling concrete, toilet floor water leakage etc, and look forward to HIP coming to their blocks. Kaki Bukit is one of the oldest estates in Singapore, with some flats as old as 37 years," Mr Poh wrote in the letter to residents.

Also posted on the notice boards was a letter, dated Feb 10, that Mr Poh had sent to AHPETC general manager How Wong Fan. With all 54 blocks in Kaki Bukit at least 30 years old, Mr Poh appealed to AHPETC to consider prioritising four blocks in Bedok North Street 3 that are around 37 years old for the upcoming HIP.

Mr Poh said the town council did not reply to his letter.

Yesterday, AHPETC said it runs a mature town with over 700 blocks, including many old flats in addition to those in Kaki Bukit. In 2012 and last year, the town council had nominated various clusters in four wards - Kaki Bukit, Eunos, Hougang and Paya Lebar - for HIP. A Kaki Bukit cluster comprising four blocks was eventually selected by HDB last year, said AHPETC.

This year, it nominated clusters from the two remaining wards that qualify for HIP - Bedok Reservoir-Punggol and Serangoon - as well as Paya Lebar for the programme.

HDB selected two clusters from Bedok Reservoir-Punggol and one from Serangoon.

AHPETC said when it took over the management of the town in 2011, many eligible blocks, including those in Kaki Bukit, had not yet been nominated or chosen for HIP, which began in 2007.

The National Development Ministry said in its budget this year that it is ramping up HIP, with some 35,000 homes to benefit from the scheme a year instead of 28,000. "Next year, we will nominate more clusters for HIP and look forward to HDB's fair consideration of the nominations," said AHPETC.

This article was published on May 10 in The Straits Times.

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