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Time is running out for 37 families who need to leave Katong due to repair, restoration works

The families were issued a notice by the Singapore Land Authority that they have until the end of 2020 to move out

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Singapore—The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has given 37 families who live in an estate in Katong until December 2020 to find new homes. Scheduled major restoration and repair works make it necessary for these families to move from houses that some have occupied for decades.

The families were issued a notice by the SLA that they have until the end of next year to move out in order for needful restoration and repair works to be done in the homes there.

According to a report from The Straits Times (ST), this brings challenges to families that have lived in the area for a very long time. Eighty-five-year-old Madam Hasana Ahmad is one such resident affected by the SLA’s scheduled works.

She has lived in the area for over 40 years.

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ST quotes Madam Hasana as saying, ”Every day I eat my breakfast, open my window, sit there and talk to my trees. I have planted them nicely but now I have to move away. Even my grass cannot stay.”

The impending move, while it is still over a year away, upsets the elderly lady.

“I feel very sad. Every day I cry, so sayang (‘a pity’ in Malay) but what to do?” She told ST.

Madam Hasana’s lease will expire at the end of 2020. Amongst her neighbours she has been living at Katong the longest, having moved into her corner unit in Jalan Binjai in 1975 with her husband, who passed away twenty years ago. One of her 10 children takes care of her S$2,500 monthly rental fee, and one of her grandsons lives with her.

“My mother is most at home on the ground, not high up in the air. So now, in preparation for the move, I get her to stay in my house a few nights each week so she can slowly get used to living in an apartment,” Madam Hasana’s daughter, Maryam Mohamed, told ST, explaining that the elderly lady has never lived in a high-rise.

There are 42 two-storey homes with terraces off of Haig Road – in Jalan Binjai, Jalan Gajus, Jalan Tembusu and Jalan Beringin, which were built over 50 years ago.

Once serving as government quarters, the ST report says these are properties belonging to the state and were rented out to the highest bidders.

Rental fees for the homes are between S$2,500 to S$3,200, dependent on bids placed, with leases usually lasting two years.

The SLA told current residents who wanted to stay on that they could renew the lease until the end of next year. The authority distributed notices to the residents next month, and has said that major repair and restoration works that would affect the roof, the internal structures, and other elements of the buildings, are to be carried out “to ensure these properties remain relevant and structurally durable”.

A representative from SLA said that the work is scheduled to take place between January and December of 2021.

“Tenants who wish to return after the completion of the upgrading works can register their interest to rent the property at the prevailing market rental,” she added.

Madam Hasana expressed hopes that she’ll still be able to afford living in the area once restoration is done. “If rent is low or the same, I want to come back. Better if I can stay here until I die. This is a very good home.”

SLA and the managing agent for the estate are helping residents with relocating. -/TISG

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