(Delivered in Parliament on 6 March 2020)
My speech will touch on the matters presented in this bill which has effect on Town Council’s estate maintenance in particular the issue of costs.
Sir, two of the main objectives of this amendment bill are to:
(i) enhance safety of lifts, escalators and mechanised car park systems and;
(ii) introduce a mandatory facade inspection regime for buildings more than 20 years old
I welcome this amendment as safety is paramount and should not be taken lightly.
In recent years, we have heard and seen news on a number of cases pertains to dislodgement of fixtures from HDB blocks façade or exterior wall such as sun shade, decorative and even bricks. Fortunately, no injury or fatality was reported. However, this is not the case for lift malfunction related incidents that occurred in HDB blocks. In the last few years, there had been reports of residents or members of public who are visiting, sustained mild to serious injuries. I do hope with the tightening of legislation and measures as proposed in this amendment bill will provide a safer and more conducive living environment.
Sir, I support this amendment bill. Nonetheless, as the chair of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, I do have concern on the cost issue. Consequently, the adoption and implementation of the new measures and regimes indicated in this bill will be the additional expenditure. For example, as mentioned in this bill, there will be a requirement to conduct the façade inspection regime for buildings which are older than 20 years and thereafter conducting a 7 years cyclical inspection.
Town like Aljunied-Hougang is home to many HDB blocks which are 20 years and above, approximately more than 80%. We have encountered dislodgement of façade features and one of these incidents was highlighted by my colleague, Mr Pritam Singh, two days ago during MND’s COS debate.
In view of these inevitable additional expenses, I would like to seek clarification from the ministry whether the Town Council’s will have to solely bear the additional expenses or will HDB as the landlord will do co-sharing payment similar to their current practice for façade repair expenses. Additionally, will Ministry consider additional funding for Town Councils.
Another point that I want to raise is on the availability of the trained personnel or “appropriate person” as mentioned in clause 20 on building inspections and remedial works. This issue was touched earlier by my colleague, Ms Sylvia Lim. I just like to seek ministry’s views on whether there will be any possibility of shortage of this “appropriate person” due to the enhanced in measures and regimes introduced in this bill as there will be a higher demand for such individual. In short, will there be an issue of imbalance ‘Supply and Demand’ situation, in particular for the mandatory regime of façade inspection. If this shortage is likely to happen, what will be ministry’s plans to address this issue.
Sir, I look forward to ministry’s clarifications on the two matters I have raised.