Workers at the Senja Valley Build-To-Order construction site in Bukit Panjang wearing colour-coded helmets and wristbands to denote the zone they are working in.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Construction works have resumed at 89 Build-To-Order (BTO) sites as of Monday, the Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said yesterday.

Only one of the 90 BTO sites is currently pending approval from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), but the Housing Board told The Straits Times that it is working with the contractor to safely resume works.

The HDB did not specify the site.

Construction works have resumed gradually since June 2, when the circuit breaker measures were eased, with companies having to adhere to strict safe management measures on worksites amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The HDB had said previously that some BTO projects will be delayed by about six to nine months beyond their original estimated completion dates because of material supply disruptions and manpower shortages.

There is no change to the estimated delay timeline, although the HDB will continue to look for ways to reduce the length of delays as works resume, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and HDB said in a joint statement yesterday.

Among the 89 BTO sites where construction works have restarted is the Senja Valley project in Bukit Panjang, which was launched in May 2016.

It consists of 789 units of two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room flats, and 202 public rental flats.

Sim Lian Construction, the main contractor for the project, obtained BCA’s approval on July 4, and construction works have resumed progressively since July 17.

Sim Lian’s project director Phay Morgan, 49, who oversees the project, said Senja Valley was originally four months ahead of schedule before the circuit breaker period kicked in on April 7.

Subsequent delays meant that the home owners would no longer be able to get their keys earlier than was originally anticipated. Instead, it is on track for its original estimated completion date in the fourth quarter of next year.

Currently, about 220 workers – around 80 per cent of the workforce required – are back on the project site.

Yesterday, Mr Lee visited the Senja Valley site to observe some of the safety measures implemented to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 cases on construction sites.

These include the demarcation of zones within the site with dedicated rest areas and toilet facilities, and segregated work teams with staggered eating, resting and reporting times.

In a Facebook post later, Mr Lee thanked contractors for putting in the extra effort to consult the relevant agencies regularly, and to ensure detailed manpower planning and site preparation.

“Abiding by these safety measures may lead to inevitable delays, but they are needed for everyone’s health and safety,” he said.

“I would like to reassure home owners that HDB will continue to do its best to minimise these delays for all other BTO projects, while working with contractors to ensure Covid-safe compliance.”

The HDB said flat buyers will be kept updated on the completion date of their BTO project through letters and via their My HDBPage account, as construction progresses.

Visited the Senja Valley HDB BTO project worksite today. This project is one of the 89 ongoing BTO projects that has…

Posted by Desmond Lee on Thursday, August 20, 2020

Originally published in The Straits Times.