Punggol BTO faces further delays after HDB axes main contractor’s services over ‘unsatisfactory’ progress , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Punggol BTO faces further delays after HDB axes main contractor’s services over ‘unsatisfactory’ progress

Buyers of 991 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Punggol will face further delays of three months, on top of an already delayed completion timeline, after the Housing Board terminated the services of the project’s main contractor.

The services of CKR Contract Services, the main contractor for the Punggol Point Cove BTO project, were terminated due to “unsatisfactory” progress and a repeated failure to meet necessary construction targets, said HDB in an e-mail sent to buyers on Thursday and seen by The Straits Times.

This is despite frequent engagement and HDB’s best efforts to facilitate the progress of work with the contractor, and the termination is in the interest of the flat buyers, said the board in the e-mail.

There are six residential blocks in Punggol Point Cove, housing a total of 1,179 two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room units.

The completion dates of these units were already delayed by between six and nine months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Five of the six blocks will be further delayed by three months following the latest termination of the main contractor’s services, said HDB in response to queries from ST. These flats are expected to be ready between the fourth quarter of 2024 and the first quarter of 2025.

These flats are under phase two of Punggol Point Cove, which was launched for sale in September 2019. Phase one, which was launched a year earlier in August 2018, is being built by another main contractor.

HDB said that it is in the process of bringing on board a new contractor in August to complete the remaining work, without compromising the quality of the project and safety of workers.

While more time is needed to complete the project, HDB said flats are still expected to be completed by the delivery possession date, based on its current assessment.

The delivery possession date is the legal contractual date by which HDB must hand over the flat to buyers.

Like the majority of BTO projects launched before Covid-19 hit, Punggol Point Cove was affected by the severe disruption caused by the pandemic, said HDB.

While HDB has managed to deliver more than 70 per cent of the delayed BTO projects to date, progress of phase two of Punggol Point Cove remained slow and was put under “close monitoring” several months ago.

Despite various assistance measures provided by HDB to CKR to catch up on work, the “site progress remained unsatisfactory” and the main contractor “repeatedly failed to meet the necessary construction targets”, said HDB.

The board said it closely monitors BTO contractors that may be facing challenges in adhering to project timelines and regularly assesses these contractors’ ability to catch up and meet the construction milestones.

“A decision to terminate a BTO contract is not taken lightly as this will inevitably entail more project delays,” said HDB.

“Typically, these contractors would encounter one or more causes of delay such as the inability to carry out works due to financial difficulties, disruption in management team or high turnover of site supervisory personnel, as well as the lack of resources and manpower,” it added.

While support will be given to these contractors, HDB said the interest of flat buyers is its key priority and the board will take “timely decisions”, including contract termination, to safeguard buyers’ interest and minimise any further delays.

Affected flat buyers are given at least six months to a year in advance notice of any changes to their probable completion date, where possible, said HDB.

CKR is the main contractor for another ongoing project, the Toh Guan Grove BTO project in Jurong East, which is estimated to be completed in 2026.

HDB said it is still on track to be completed by the committed project completion date to flat buyers.

CKR has also completed the blocks in the Eunos Court BTO project, although the commercial facilities such as shops and community spaces are still undergoing construction work.

ST has reached out to CKR for comments.

HDB’s most recent termination of a construction contract was that for Harmony Village @ Bukit Batok BTO in January. Despite a change in the main contractor, there was no delay in the probable completion date.

In August 2021, five BTO projects and two public projects were affected when a main contractor, Greatearth, went bust after it ran into financial difficulties.

In August 2020, HDB terminated the services of a building contractor for Waterway Sunrise II, a BTO project in Punggol, and buyers were hit with a one-year delay. HDB paid out around $5 million in compensation as the project was delayed beyond its delivery possession date.

The contractor, Lian Ho Lee Construction, has since shut down.

Fitness coach Tham Rong Sheng, 32, who is waiting for his four-room BTO flat with his wife and 7-month-old daughter, said he now regrets picking the BTO project out of all the other projects in the September 2019 launch.

“I can’t help but compare our project’s progress to our neighbours in Punggol Point Crown BTO. They’re already getting their keys within their completion timeline,” said Mr Tham.

He is also worried about the safety of the blocks if the new contractor do a rush job to meet the projected timeline. His family of three is currently staying with family.

However, he said his family is “too far along” in their wait for the BTO flat to give it up now. It would also not be financially wise for him to do so, given the current high resale HDB prices and high interest rate environment, he added.

Noting that rental prices on the open market are too “crazy” at the moment, Mr Tham said: “I can only hope HDB approves our appeal to rent from them so my daughter can have more space to grow up till we get our flat.”