Singapore – Yao Chee Liew, the former deputy CEO of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), has voiced his opinions on the shift of responsibility to the contractor for the “erroneous” clearing of a forested area at Kranji.
Writing in a forum letter for Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, Mr Yao noted that JTC Corporation developed the project and should also bear much of the responsibility for the incident.
Mr Yao expressed that both JTC and the contractor, Huationg Global Limited, were responsible for what had happened, allocating 60 per cent of the responsibility to JTC.
Mr Yao noted that although some may disagree with how he allocated the responsibility, there should not be a shifting of the responsibility to the contractor. He explained the procedures which both parties had to follow throughout the project development.
The former deputy CEO highlighted that almost all government projects are carried out by open tender, meaning contractors would make bids based on engineering drawings and contract specifications. JTC would then hire a qualified land surveyor to finalise the project’s scope before giving control to the contractor that won the bid.
Both parties should work together to ensure the project proceeds smoothly, said Mr Yao. It is the responsibility of JTC to hire a project manager, engineering supervisor, or clerk of works to stay on-site while the project is in progress to ensure standards are met along the way, he added.
Furthermore, he noted in his letter that such large-scale land clearing could not possibly happen in a day. He estimated the scope to have taken at least six months to carry out.
On Feb 19, Huationg released a statement confirming JTC had issued them a stop-work order on Jan 13. As a result, the firm is expecting delays in the completion of the Agri-Food Innovation Park, which is part of the Sungei Kadut Eco-District.
JTC confirmed it had discovered on Jan 13 that Huationg had “erroneously begun clearing some of the specified plots of land” before the completion of both the baseline study and EMMP (environmental monitoring and management plan) scheduled to be completed around Apr 2021.
An environmental specialist was hired to carry out a biodiversity baseline study last Dec 2020 and work out an EMMP for specified plots of land within the area.
“Since then, no further clearing has taken place on-site, and the contractor has been issued a stern warning,” said JTC. The developer added it takes a “very serious view of the incident” as it has always been committed to protecting the environment when developing industrial land./TISG
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