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SINGAPORE – Due to construction delays caused by labor shortages and supply chain disturbances, approximately 43,000 households would receive their Build-To-Order (BTO) flat keys late.

According to the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a written parliamentary reply on Monday, about 85% of the 89 ongoing BTO projects are six to nine months behind schedule (April 5).

BTO Projects
Image Source: The Straits Times

As of the end of February, the Housing Board had supported about 240 households with temporary rental housing flats, out of a total of 43,000 impacted households.National Development Minister Desmond Lee said on Wednesday that the global Covid-19 situation makes it difficult for construction companies to recruit workers, but the HDB is taking measures to speed up construction.

Mr Lee suggested that, in order to speed things up, less noisy construction activities at BTO sites be permitted to take place on Sundays and public holidays, if possible.Although the HDB has taken additional steps to minimize the duration of delays, Mr Lee believes it is critical to ensure that the safety and well-being of local and foreign staff, as well as efficiency, are not jeopardized.On Monday, MPs Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol) requested updates on BTO’s backlog of building delays projects.

In addition to BTO projects, building schedules have been affected for private housing, commercial and industrial projects as well, said Mr. Lee.In the two-month interruptors, which began on April 7 last year, all construction was stopped.

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But before that, since January 2020, when China was locked down, the construction sector had been affected, Mr Lee says. The supply chains were further disrupted by Malaysia’s curbs in March.It was only in August that most building works in Singapore could resume.”Even then, Covid-19 safety measures impacted productivity and the speed of construction, and there were frequent start-stops as Covid-19 infections continued to pop up,” said Mr Lee.

He added: “Even now, as Covid infections worldwide continue to be high, it has also been difficult for firms to bring in enough workers and the sector is facing manpower shortages.”Housing problems and HDB cannot be approached with support from home buyers.

Environmentally sustainable design engineer Natalyn Guam, 26, is one of those in a project named Plantation Acres facing a nine-month delay for her 4-room BTO flat in Tengah.She and her husband expected to receive keys at the end of 2022, and in order to spread the costs of marriage and home renovation in October 2020 they held their solemnisation ceremony.However, once their flat is ready – which has been postponed until the third quarter of 2023 – the pair will continue to split their time between their parents’ homes, living in Pasir Ris throughout the week and Jurong West on weekends.

“The travelling takes a toll on us, but on the bright side, this delay has allowed us to spend more time with our parents and we can also save more money for the renovation,” said Ms Guam.Others who are not affected by building delays are lucky.Subject to the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, 30-year-old Angelina Han and her fiance applied to two units in Garden Vale, together with the future of her in-laws.

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They are expected to complete their four-room and three-room apartment, which they requested in April 2019, in the third quarter of 2023. Ms. Han said no delays were communicated to her.

“I think our waiting time of four years is not as bad – at least it’s not five or six years. I just try to not think about it. Before you know it, it’s key collection time,” she said.
Source: The Straits Times

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