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Alfrescian (Inf)

‘The noise is terrible’: Residents say quality of life affected by North-South Corridor construction​


Mr Jack Patel looking at the traffic and construction from the second-storey apartment he rented along Thomson Road. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Yong Li Xuan and Aqil Hamzah

Jan 25, 2023

SINGAPORE - Every day from about 1pm to 3pm, the floor of Mr Min Thit Saing’s rental unit shakes due to the construction work going on metres away from his home at Block 10D Braddell View.
The operations executive works primarily from home, so he also has to deal with the pounding and whirring of machines used to construct the North-South Corridor (NSC), a 21.5km transport route that will run right next to the 24-year-old’s apartment block.
“The noise is terrible,” he told The Straits Times in late 2022. “The best I can do is close the windows and curtains, and after a while, it just becomes a part of the background.”
In Thomson Road, Mr Jack Patel and his wife have taken more drastic measures – spending $2,000 to soundproof their 19-month-old baby’s room because the noise was affecting the child’s sleep.
According to the couple, who are both educators, construction work outside their apartment can start early in the morning and end past midnight. “There’s no peace and quiet, and you can’t relax,” Mr Patel, 42, said, adding that the construction has gravely affected the family of five’s quality of life.
He said the oldest of his three sons, who is six, has a sensory processing disorder, which makes the noise feel even louder.
Residents in Ang Mo Kio and Yio Chu Kang also said the construction of the upcoming transport corridor, which is slated to be completed from 2027, has disrupted their daily lives.

Joel Felix Raj, 15, who lives at Block 649 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, said it is difficult to concentrate on his schoolwork with the construction happening right outside his home.
But the secondary school student said he has learnt to live with it.
Meanwhile, businesses near the NSC have also lamented its impact on sales.

At Balestier Hill Shopping Centre in Thomson Road, the facade of the building is almost entirely covered by noise barriers put up by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as part of its mitigation measures.
Because of this, shops there are not visible from the street and many businesses have shuttered, said Mr Kent Tham, business manager for paint shop Hiap Soon Heng.
Mr Tham, 30, said sales at his shop, which has been at the shopping centre for more than 40 years, have also taken a hit, falling by at least 30 per cent since work on the NSC started in 2018. He said the business relies on its regular customers to survive.

According to Mr Jack Patel and his wife, who are both educators, construction work outside their apartment can start early in the morning and end past midnight. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Ms Cheryl Lim, 24, a sales associate at bicycle store Elite Custom, was more positive.
“We were told that construction would take about eight years, so we were kind of ready for it,” she said, adding that the cycling paths that will be built in front of the shopping centre as part of the NSC may help boost business in future.
Another source of frustration for residents has been the traffic diversions along the planned NSC route.

Mr Yap Keng Soon, 60, who lives in Castle Green condominium in Yio Chu Kang, said the diversions and road closures cause traffic jams during rush hour. Because of this, the traffic in the area can also be quite chaotic, said the senior program manager at Marvell Semiconductor.
GrabFood delivery walker Grace Phua, who lives near Newton Road, said the changes to the walkways and traffic junctions in the Novena area can be confusing. “Suddenly, the walkways change and pedestrians don’t even know where to go. Even the traffic lights keep changing,” the 44-year-old said, adding that she had stopped cycling to deliver food given the bad traffic.

View of the construction works and road diversion along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 9. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Residents said they hope LTA can do more to help them with the inconveniences, especially in the area of communications, notifying them more consistently about when noisier works will be conducted and for how long.
Mr Solomon Fang, 76, who lives at Block 10D Braddell View, said LTA and its contractors should give out earplugs to help residents cope with the noise.
“Every now and then, we’ll get an e-mail or a note, sometimes a WhatsApp message, saying that the construction work will take place at night as it involves the movement of earth material or concrete. But there’s no reprieve from the noise, you just have to bear with it,” the retiree said.
“Personally, I think the decision to proceed with the construction of the North-South Corridor is necessary, but the minimising of disruptions to residents is not good enough,” he added.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Bridge at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve reopens three days after man and daughter fell through hole​

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Workers patching up the hole in the bridge on Thursday. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Shabana Begum and Thomas Loke

Jan 26, 2023

SINGAPORE - A cordoned-off area at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve reopened to the public on Thursday, three days after a man and his daughter fell through a hole in a bridge caused by heavy rain and overflowing water that dislodged the floor panels.
The National Parks Board (NParks) group director for conservation Lim Liang Jim said the hole was patched up after the waters had receded, and no other missing panels or gaps were found in the park.
With the rest of the Chinese New Year period expected to see prolonged downpours, Mr Lim added that NParks staff are closely monitoring water levels in the reserve, and will temporarily close areas that could be subject to intermittent flooding.
On Monday, the second day of the Chinese New Year holidays, Mr Bucky Hussain, 33, his wife and their two children were taking a stroll at the wetland reserve, which they visit frequently, when it began to pour at close to noon, said Mr Hussain, who works in sales strategy at Google.
Rushing to leave the nature park, Mr Hussain and his wife grabbed their children and started across the bridge, which was ankle-deep in water.
The walkway crosses a sluice gate that controls discharge from the Buloh Besar River into the sea.
A wide hole in the middle of the bridge where there were missing panels was not visible, and he and his two-year-old daughter, Ashley, plunged into the raging water below.

“I instinctively grabbed my daughter and pushed her up to the surface so she’d be above water. I was underwater, gulping a lot of the water. I couldn’t feel the floor... the current was very strong,” he told The Straits Times in a phone call on Thursday.
His wife, carrying their four-year-old son, stood above them in shock.
Mr Hussain used his free arm to hold onto a stable plank on the bridge and his right leg felt concrete – the submerged pillars of the bridge.

“To fight the current and climb back to land, I pressed my leg against the concrete and pushed up, while holding my daughter. A group of passers-by who were a few metres behind us on the bridge grabbed Ashley.”
Mr Hussain then hauled himself up back onto the bridge, suffering a large bruise on his ribs, scratches on his arms and cuts on his thigh. Ashley was unhurt.
The whole ordeal lasted at most two minutes, but it felt like a lifetime, he said.
His family and the passers-by stayed at the bridge to warn visitors about the hole. They also tried to cover it up with stray planks, but the wooden pieces kept floating away on the flooded walkway.
He said: “I’m a strong swimmer, trained as a lifeguard, but I would not have survived in that water. I think the hole was bigger than a manhole.”

They then walked to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Wetland Centre, but found it empty on the public holiday. The family learnt later that the only employee on duty that day was on the other side of the wetland reserve, attending to other visitors.
Several calls to an available hotline number went unanswered.
“I then rang 995. It was the only number we could think of. But the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) operator said if they did not need an emergency ambulance, we should address this to the right agency.”
Mr Hussain later posted an update on social media that SCDF apologised to him for how the operator had handled the call.
Finally, their call to the hotline went through. The staff member came rushing back to speak with the family and check on the walkway.
Mr Hussein’s wife also emailed NParks about the incident. He said on Wednesday night, he received a call from an NParks director to inform him that the site had been cordoned off and engineers engaged to repair the bridge. The director also said the wetland reserve would implement longer term preventive measures to avoid structural problems caused by inclement weather, and that they would work on displaying a helpline number more prominently in the park.

The walkway crosses a sluice gate that controls discharge from the Buloh Besar River into the sea. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS
Mr Lim said the overflowing waters during the peak of the spring tide, coupled with heavy rain, had dislodged the floor panels, creating the hole.
He said: “We have reached out to the family to thank them for helping to inform other park visitors about the gap and notifying our staff of the situation to rectify it.”
On Thursday morning, a section of the bridge was cordoned off with cones and tape, with most of the missing wood planks back in place as repairs had been underway since Wednesday at around 5pm, said one of the workers. Two workers were sawing planks to fit the gap.
While Mr Hussain’s wounds and cuts are healing, he remains shaken by the ordeal.
“I’ve been through many dangerous close calls growing up that have not affected me as much. But this involved my daughter and family.
“I keep replaying in my head how things could have gone wrong.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Unenforced rules on illegal parking may embolden others​

Jan 27, 2023

I am concerned with the general state of enforcement of road regulations (Illegally parked trailer still there despite repeated feedback, Jan 25).
I have made many reports of illegal parking along Taman Sireh on the OneService app, and received the same standard reply each time. I have not observed any physical ticket being issued to the errant vehicle so far, and the same vehicle has remained illegally parked for the past seven days.
I was also advised by the Land Transport Authority’s helpdesk to use the OneMotoring website to make the report. But I have used it since Jan 1 to report offenders, and have yet to see any action being taken against them.
What concerns me the most is that illegal parking, like littering, may seem like a trivial offence, but once such simple rules fail to be enforced effectively, it can signal the start of a decline in general law and order.
Unenforced rules will embolden other potential offenders.
Singapore cannot afford to go down this path.

Ong Eng Hua


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Delivery drivers deprived of spaces at unloading bays due to illegal parking​

Jan 28, 2023

I agree with Forum writer Ong Eng Hua’s points in his letter, “Unenforced rules may embolden others” (Jan 27).
I am a delivery driver and am often forced to search for an unoccupied parking space at the HDB loading and unloading bays. Many spaces are occupied illegally by non-commercial vehicles.
I am often forced to park along roads with double yellow lines, with my hazard lights on while doing my deliveries. As a result, I am often ticketed by parking wardens.
I try to plead that the delivery spaces are illegally occupied by others, but in vain.
On other days, I call the HDB enforcement hotline but no one arrives, sometimes even after an hour, despite my repeated calls.
Delivery drivers who are rushed for time cannot wait for those who park illegally to give way to us. Through no fault of ours, we are penalised and our appeals go unheard.
It is time the HDB reviewed its enforcement policies, otherwise ordinary delivery workers will bear the brunt of consequences arising from inconsiderate parking.

Richard Cheng


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Law enforcement agencies must do better to deter overstaying​

Jan 30, 2023

It is rather inexplicable that two Chinese nationals managed to stay here illegally for more than 10 years after their employment passes were cancelled by the Ministry of Manpower before they were arrested and convicted (Jail, fine for 2 Chinese nationals who overstayed for over 10 years, Jan 26).
Surely there is enough information on overstayers, perhaps starting with their last known addresses or places of employment, to enable the authorities to track them down.
I wonder if the enforcement of the laws on overstaying is too lax, and how many other overstayers are still here.
Reports like this may encourage some foreigners to overstay, since they may think that it takes years for the law to catch up with them, and they may not find the punishment meted out to be enough of a deterrence. The risk and benefit trade-off seems to favour the offenders.
Our law enforcement agencies must do much better in stamping out overstayers, some of whom might resort to illegal activities to survive. Since all overstayers need housing and some work illegally, those who provide them with accommodation or employment should be dealt with severely for abetting in the offence. This would widen the net to more easily and quickly weed out and deport overstayers.

Ang Ah Lay


Alfrescian (Inf)

Coordination between social service agencies can improve digital inclusion for seniors: Josephine Teo​


Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo speaking to partners at an engagement session on Feb 3, 2023, to better understand the digital needs of low-income households and seniors. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Shermaine Ang

Feb 4, 2023

SINGAPORE - Social service agencies should work together better and pool resources to help vulnerable groups access digital technologies – and setting up a central online portal for agencies to share information could help with that, social workers said.
Better coordination can help address issues that may arise from providing digital access. For example, while some low-income seniors may be given free mobile phones by an agency, they may not use the phones as they do not know how to.
Other seniors may be given training on how to use phones, but have none available outside of their training sessions.
This was an example brought up during an engagement session organised by the Ministry of Communications and Information on Friday, held as part of the Forward Singapore conversations to refresh the social compact.
The event, which took place at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar, was attended by 50 partipicants from social service agencies, tech and telecommunications companies, and institutes of higher learning. It was held under Chatham House rules, which means that participants cannot be named in media reports.
Participants also mentioned how seniors could be put off by having to go to collection points to get SIM cards for the $5 mobile data plans they can sign up for.
Instead, the participants suggested, the SIM cards can be made available for collection at Singapore Post, or delivered to social service agencies that can give them to the elderly beneficiaries.

They also observed that peer support – such as a WhatsApp chat group to share “good morning” messages, or setting up the FairPrice mobile application together in place of the Kopitiam stored value card, which is now being phased out – can motivate seniors to practise digital skills.
Seniors can also impart skills they learn to their peers, the participants said.
They also suggested that applications for financial aid be further streamlined, to save beneficiaries the hassle of filling in multiple application forms and providing supporting documents.

Ms Felicia Seah, president of SGBono, which provides refurbished laptops to Community Health Assist Scheme blue card holders, said it works with Vivita Singapore to conduct workshops for children on skills such as coding, and using graphic design tool Canva on their laptops.
The two organisations run these sessions every third Saturday of the month at lifestyle hub Heartbeat@Bedok. SGBono also offers free laptop repair for its beneficiaries.

Ms Teo Pek Wan, director of adult and elderly services at disability agency SPD, said the organisation is trying to reach more caregivers of people with disabilities, to help them access important digital services using Singpass.
Some of these caregivers are seniors and struggle with using digital services themselves, she said.
She added that SPD is trying to guide special education school graduates to learn basic functions of their phone, such as how to turn on Wi-Fi.
In her closing remarks at the event, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said that while 99 per cent of households in Singapore have broadband access, the remaining 1 per cent should not be forgotten.
She stressed that social service agencies should ride on existing schemes and programmes.
“We should look at it from the point of view of the beneficiaries and ask: ‘Can we make it more seamless, convenient, flexible for them, using existing touchpoints that already exist?’”
She also emphasised the importance of skills training. “Just because someone has access doesn’t mean that they will be able to go online and use digital services with confidence,” she said.
“The training has to be thoughtfully considered and timely. If there is a discontinuity between when the person gets hold of the device and when they acquire the skills to use it, and the training provided has a gap, you might have lost the person’s interest.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: CDP should retain its face-to-face customer service​

Feb 16, 2023

The Singapore Exchange’s Central Depository (CDP) customer service centre ceased attending to customers in person during the Covid-19 years. Now that almost all the Covid-19 measures have been relaxed, it is about time CDP resumed its important face-to-face service with customers.
It can still continue to provide services online, but spare a thought for those less digitally savvy. Many account holders, especially seniors, would prefer CDP services to be rendered in person, as they feel issues can be resolved in a more expedient manner.
Although Singapore has to move in pace with a fast-paced digital economy, there are still those who are having difficulty catching up, and their interests need to be considered as well.

S. Nallakaruppan
The Society of Remisiers (Singapore)


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Height difference causing road completion delay hard to understand​

Feb 21, 2023

I read with great disappointment the article “Longer wait for direct route to Bartley Rd for Bidadari residents” (Feb 20).
Over the past few years, residents in the Bartley area have had to live with the construction of the Bidadari Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, the related infrastructure works, and also the road-widening works of Mount Vernon Road.
Since it was announced that Bidadari Park Drive was slated for completion in the first half of 2023, I had been waiting eagerly for the direct route to Bartley Road and for better traffic conditions.
It is deeply unsettling to now learn that the completion is postponed indefinitely. I am baffled to learn that the cause for the postponement was a height difference of more than 1m between Bidadari Park Drive and Bartley Road, and that the best-deemed remedy is to raise the already busy Bartley Road to match the height of the new road.
When the new road was being designed, did it not occur to the authorities and the construction team that there would be this height difference? How was this not picked up during the construction plan submission and approval stages?
I hope the authorities will learn from any lapses and mistakes from this situation, and hold the relevant personnel accountable for this waste of taxpayers’ money.

Liew Hwei Cheung


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Surprised to see so much litter during recent visit​

Feb 25, 2023

I lived in Singapore from 2011 to 2017. I have travelled to 56 countries; Singapore is my favourite country, and its citizens are lucky to be living there.
I visited Singapore for a week recently. What I noticed has changed the most is the amount of litter in public spaces.
I saw cigarette butts outside Raffles Place MRT station and along pavements, and plastic cups and bags on the pathways near eateries.
Several drainage canals were full of debris, with plastic bottles and paper cups floating on the water.
I saw a tourist toss a lit cigarette near a hotel, but I did not dare scold him for fear of retaliation.
When I lived in Singapore, I used an app to report cases of clogged drains and littering, but I did not have the app installed during this visit.
I have bragged to all my friends about how immaculate Singapore is. While it is probably still the cleanest country in the world, why is it allowing this littering?

Where are the litter patrols? When I first moved to Singapore, I saw officers speaking to tourists and local teenagers who had littered. During this visit, I did not see anyone cleaning community places under a Corrective Work Order.
Please do not let litter scar this beautiful country. Catch and penalise offenders. Make sure the canals are clean. Encourage citizens to maintain cleanliness. Singapore is a “City in a Garden”, and it must keep itself immaculate to maintain this image.

Marie Antoinette McBride


Alfrescian (Inf)

Try new ideas to tackle littering​

Mar 10, 2023

Every time someone brings up the littering problem, the National Environment Agency would respond predictably: a multipronged approach is used, including allocating significant resources to enforcement action, working with various parties and engaging the community (Multi-pronged approach to keep S’pore litter-free, March 3). Are NEA’s efforts getting the results we want? If these methods and efforts are not producing the desired outcome, perhaps NEA should re-evaluate its effectiveness or try new ideas.

Francis Yeoh


Alfrescian (Inf)

Step up enforcement action against smoking on rainy days​

Mar 10, 2023
The recent spell of wet weather has seen smokers taking smoking breaks under shelter at bus stops and covered walkways, which are both against the law.

The fact that smokers take their puffs so freely at prohibited places when it rains suggests that enforcement action is seldom carried out during such times.

Our law, which is meant to protect people against harmful second-hand smoke, should not provide any exceptions.

Liu I-Chun


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Long wait at polyclinic but still did not get to see doctor​

Mar 14, 2023

I wish to express my concern about the accessibility of public healthcare at polyclinics in Singapore.
Recently, I took my 19-year-old daughter who had a fever of 37.8 deg C to Bukit Batok Polyclinic and was told to queue for a time slot to see the doctor.
But we ended up not getting a time slot because my daughter was not considered a priority case, as she was neither a child nor an elderly person running a high fever.
While I acknowledge the need for prioritisation in a busy healthcare system, I am concerned that this may prevent people from accessing the healthcare they need, particularly for minor illnesses that could escalate into more serious conditions.
For many families, polyclinics may be their only option for healthcare, and not getting treatment could have dire consequences.
In my recent experience, being in the queue for nearly an hour before being told we would not get to see the doctor was frustrating.
Many Singaporeans, like myself, have employee benefits at polyclinics that can help defray the cost of healthcare. Even with the Community Health Assist Scheme benefit, private healthcare costs are still higher than those for public healthcare.

Policies on public healthcare accessibility at polyclinics should be reviewed to ensure that everyone can receive timely and appropriate care.

Patricia Goh


Alfrescian (Inf)

Disruption in clearance system affecting some checkpoints, delays expected: ICA​


Long queues were seen at the Causeway as ICA warns of delays due to "intermittent slowness". PHOTOS: MOHAMEDSHABIYUDEEN/FACEBOOK, CHLOE TAN/FACEBOOK

Aqil Hamzah

Mar 31, 2023

SINGAPORE – Delays are expected across some land and air checkpoints due to a disruption in the immigration clearance system.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) first announced the disruption on Facebook at 11.28am, adding that it “regrets the inconvenience caused to travellers and seek their understanding and patience”.
In an update at 12.03pm, it advised travellers to postpone all non-essential travel.
Official updates would be put up on ICA’s Facebook page, it added.
Meanwhile, motorists entering Singapore through either the Woodlands or Tuas Checkpoints griped online that they had been left waiting in the queue with no reprieve in sight.
In a Facebook group for Malaysians who work in Singapore, several people had posted photos of long queues of vehicles on the Causeway, and of people in the immigration hall.
Most said they had been waiting for about an hour, with one commenter saying that the automatic counters were down.

Similarly, long queues had formed at Changi Airport as well, with throngs of people waiting to enter departure gates.
Facebook user C Tse Yang said that with the system down, immigration officers at the airport had taken to manually calling out people whose flights were about to leave.
“(There’s) no queue, no crowd management. Staff all don’t know what to do, waiting for instruction(s),” he said.
This story is developing.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Residents complain of defects in new Fernvale Dew estate in Sengkang; HDB says most issues resolved in 2 weeks​


Residents at Fernvale Dew have raised concerns about shoddy workmanship and multiple defects of their new Build-To-Order flat. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM CYN TAN/FACEBOOK

Elaine Lee

Apr 4, 2023

SINGAPORE - An online petition that made claims of poor workmanship in a nearly completed Housing Board Build-To-Order (BTO) estate has garnered more than 100 signatures.
Headlined “Feedback on shoddy workmanship Fernvale Dew”, the Change.org appeal was started by Fernvale Dew resident Kelvin Leong, who claimed that HDB had started issuing keys to homeowners in the estate in Sengkang, despite ongoing construction works there.
“Most of the owners, especially those batches who have collected keys in early February 2023 identified multiple defects with shoddy workmanship, ranging from hollow and chipped tiles, scratches on main door, scratches on bedroom doors and frames, slanted skirtings and DB (distribution board) box cabinets and many more,” the petition read.
The petition then claimed that the car park near where the distribution of keys to homeowners was not ready as of March 25, and has caused “much distress and further delays to a vast majority of the homeowners here”.
It then claimed that there were “severe delays” in the rectification of defects identified by the homeowners by the Building Services Centre (BSC), whose contractors allegedly disguised or concealed the defects instead of fixing them.
Mr Leong told The Straits Times that it took a total of 28 days for the defects in his new flat to be satisfactorially rectified.
“Although it is not 100 per cent perfect, we have decided to accept (it) and move on from there,” he said.

Besides the issues mentioned in the petition, resident Cyn Tan complained in a Facebook post that there was heavy ponding outside her unit when it rained. The accompanying video to her post showed large amounts of water flowing down from the sky terrace to her unit.
Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh told ST that some residents had approached him and shared their feedback about the defects of their flats, which they reported to HDB after collecting their keys for their new BTO flats.
“I’ve gone down to the blocks to take a look at the issues a few times and I’ve conveyed the residents’ concerns to HDB for their assistance,” he said.

“A few residents had come back to me and said the matter had been resolved.”
Mr Gan added that the HDB contractor will be around for a year to attend to defects reported by residents and he will continue working with the residents and HDB to resolve any other unresolved matters.
“We are committed to solving all the issues that the residents face as they collect the keys to their new homes.”

HDB told ST that the bulk of the feedback from some flat owners of Fernvale Dew pertain to minor defects on surfaces, fixtures and fittings, such as uneven wall surfaces or painting, scratches on doors or window frames, and skirting joints.
“These defects do not affect the structural integrity of the building nor compromise the functionality or liveability of the flats, and can usually be rectified easily and fairly quickly.”
HDB added that seven of the 10 residential blocks have been completed as of March 31, with the remaining blocks to be completed by mid-April. Some 513 households have collected their keys in the 1,188-unit development.
The statutory board said that all newly completed HDB flats are covered by a one-year defects liability period, effective from the date of key collection. Flat owners can report defects to the on-site BSC, which would arrange for a joint inspection with the owner to confirm the flaws. A BTO contractor will then “target to complete rectification works within 14 days”.

An online petition that made claims of poor workmanship in a nearly completed BTO estate has garnered more than 100 signatures. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM CHANGE.ORG
“In a minority of cases where more time is required either because of nature of defects or the high volume of reports arising from periods of peak key issuance, the BSC will inform the residents accordingly, if more time is required,” HDB said. “In the case of Fernvale Dew, the vast majority of issues reported by residents have been resolved within two weeks.”
HDB said the water ponding issue along the common corridor of the ninth storey of Block 400B was due to water discharge points being partially blocked by debris from the ongoing works at the sky terrace.
“The issue has since been resolved, after we cleared the debris and further extended the scupper drain along the common corridor to improve drainage,” it said.
It added that there was water splashing onto the link way at the second storey of the landscape deck near Block 401F because of a gap in the canopy roof of the landscape deck, which has since been sealed. A pipe has also been installed to drain the rainwater away.
HDB said: “We thank residents of Fernvale Dew for their feedback, and seek their continued patience as we work with the BTO contractor to rectify any remaining defects in a timely manner.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Obstructions to seamless bike ride from Bishan to CBD not cleared​

Apr 13, 2023

In mid-2015, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that it was starting a study on improving the connectivity between Bishan and the Central Business District for greener modes of transport such as cycling.
At that time, it was reported that if completed, it could take a cyclist about 30 to 45 minutes to make the journey, compared with about one hour to 1½ then (URA calls for study to make Kallang connector a seamless cycling route to town, June 30, 2015).
I would say that a commute from Bishan to the CBD today is no faster than it was eight years ago.
The underpass beneath the Central Expressway between Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir, which did not present an issue except for slightly low headroom, has been closed since the third quarter of 2021 and is still not open.
The required detour means the rider has to dismount and push the bicycle across an overhead bridge. The second obstruction is around the Geylang Bahru Industrial area.
Because of the detours brought on by construction works, I would estimate that the commute from Bishan to the CBD is now about 1hr 10mins.
When there are improvement works along our roads, great effort is taken to minimise inconvenience and travel time for motorists. Yet little consideration seems to be shown to mitigate the inconvenience caused to bicycle commuters.

If we were truly serious about encouraging greener modes of transport, it should be a priority to make bike commutes as convenient as possible to encourage more to take up cycling.

Kevin Lim Kheng Aun


Alfrescian (Inf)

Immigration clearance system disruption lasted 4½ hours, affected 85,000 land and air travellers​


Among those affected by the disruption on March 31 were 30,000 passengers on 113 departure and 111 arrival flights. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Samuel Devaraj

Apr 21, 2023

SINGAPORE – A disruption during a trial for an immigration clearance system upgrade on March 31 by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) affected a total of 85,000 air and land passengers.
They included 30,000 passengers on 113 departure and 111 arrival flights; 21 of the passengers missed their flights.
Another 55,000 travellers who passed through the two land checkpoints at Woodlands and Tuas were also affected.
In Parliament on Friday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said that following this incident, ICA is reviewing the approach to the upgrade.
Responding to questions from several MPs about the disruption, he said the pre-scheduled trial was needed for an upgrade of the Multi-Modal Biometrics System (MMBS), which facilitates automated immigration clearance using travellers’ biometrics.
But the trial caused the storage systems to overload at about 10.40am, and the process was aborted immediately.
Associate Professor Faishal said vendors were on standby to tackle problems if a disruption happened, and the plan was to recover the system within 30 minutes if the trial did not go well.

But when problems surfaced, the disruption was worse than expected and lasted for about 4½ hours.
Prof Faishal said: “The extent of the overload was much more severe than anticipated, and the vendors who were on-site had to work with their global support team to diagnose and reboot the servers.”
ICA activated its business continuity plan once the system went down, and off-duty officers were recalled to help operate manual immigration counters and perform crowd control.

Across all checkpoints, the failover process kicked in, and all manual counters and some automated lanes switched to backup systems.
However, Prof Faishal said, not all the automated lanes have this failover capability, as different models were procured over the years.
At the land checkpoints, travellers experienced delays of up to 30 minutes at the start of the incident.

At Woodlands Checkpoint, there was another hour of delays for cars as the car arrival zone had to be converted to clear motorbikes manually.
Prof Faishal said immigration clearance at Changi Airport’s departure halls was significantly affected, with travellers redirected to manual counters.
He added that ICA stepped up manning of the counters by recalling off-duty officers, deploying administrative staff and retaining officers from the outgoing shift.
Changi Airport Group assisted ICA by deploying more Changi youth ambassadors and office staff, along with the group’s duty terminal managers and its Customs, immigration and quarantine team.
Said Prof Faishal: “They helped identify travellers whose flights were departing soon so that their departure clearance could be prioritised. Public announcements were also made to appeal for such travellers to step forward.”
He added that the 21 travellers who missed their flights at Terminal 4 were offered the option of booking alternative flights within a week at no extra cost.

Before the incident, Prof Faishal said, ICA had been upgrading its systems progressively and cautiously, with 10 out of 12 systems enhanced. Only the MMBS and one other system had not yet been upgraded.
For the MMBS, the system upgrade would involve replicating the large biometric database on an upgraded system.
Prof Faishal added that this had to be done continuously over a few days, and the MMBS had to remain operational during this period.
He said user acceptance tests that are standard procedure for any system upgrade were successful, and subsequent trials in the production environment were also stable.
Following that, there were plans to conduct further controlled trials at different times of the day to ensure the system upgrade would not disrupt operations, before proceeding with the actual upgrade.
An earlier trial conducted on March 15 from 1.30am to 3.30am was successful, said Prof Faishal.
He said ICA is reviewing the approach to the upgrade, following the disruption.
He added that the alternative approach ICA was initially offered by the vendors, which involved upgrading the system directly without replicating the database, was not tenable as it might have required five days of system downtime.
Said Prof Faishal: “Even with the implementation of business continuity plans, degradation in service standards was inevitable, given the volume of travellers, and especially at the onset of the incident.
“We apologise to affected travellers for the inconvenience caused and thank them for their understanding.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Why the need to print out a document just for it to be stamped?​

Apr 25, 2023

I recently accompanied my helper who had an appointment at the Ministry of Manpower Services Centre to register for her work permit.
The officer there asked us for a hard copy of the Temporary Work Permit (Notification Letter), despite us having the soft copy stored in a phone.
I was surprised by the request, as we had assumed that the barcode in the letter could be scanned from the phone’s screen, but the officer insisted that this was the process. I then had to stand by the side of the line while another officer printed out the document.
At the end of the process, the document was returned to us with a chopped stamp indicating that the card registration was complete. I wonder why this notification could not just be e-mailed to the employer.
There were others in the queue who were similarly affected.
We should be minimising these inefficiencies, and resulting damage to the environment, in this digital age. A couple of such cases a day could add up.

Nathaniel Cheong Jun Kang


Alfrescian (Inf)

Fridge dumped in Clementi Forest not removed due to miscommunication between agencies: Sim Ann​

The National Parks Board was first alerted to the case in 2022 but the fridge was cleared only about a year later.

Fridge dumped in Clementi Forest not removed due to miscommunication between agencies: Sim Ann

A hiker had reported the presence of the discarded fridge to the OneService App in 2022. (Photo: Facebook/Semenov Pavel Dmitrievich)

Koh Wan Ting

08 May 2023

SINGAPORE: A fridge that had been discarded in Clementi Forest had not been removed by the authorities due to a miscommunication between government agencies and the case was closed prematurely, Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said on Monday (May 8).
She was responding to a parliamentary question about the incident and how the government handles cases involving electronic waste.
TODAY reported last month that an abandoned fridge in Clementi Forest was only cleared on Apr 21, about a year after a hiker stumbled upon it and informed the authorities through the OneService mobile application.
The mobile app is a platform through which government agencies receive and respond to public feedback, and is owned by the Municipal Service Office (MSO).
Ms Sim said in parliament that the National Parks Board (NParks) was first alerted to the case in March 2022 through the OneService app and sought to arrange for the fridge to be removed.
"Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication between agencies, the removal was not done and the case was closed prematurely. There was also no follow through to check that the refrigerator had indeed been cleared," she said.
"Upon being notified a second time, in 2023, NParks worked with the National Environment Agency (NEA) to clear the refrigerator on Apr 21, 2023."

In response to questions from Member of Parliament Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) on cases of electronic waste in Clement Forest and other green spaces, Ms Sim said there have been two instances of feedback on improper disposal of bulky electronic waste in forested areas and which the agencies acted on from January 2021 to March this year.
She noted that the illegal dumping of electronic and other waste in public places is an offence under the Environmental Public Health Act.
Addressing a question about the potential learning points from the case involving the fridge in Clementi Forest, Ms Sim said "lapses in communication and coordination between agencies sometimes occur".
"MSO has been working with stakeholder agencies to strengthen inter-agency coordination, and this includes NParks and NEA," she added.
This is done through staff training to ensure that feedback involving multiple agencies is referred correctly through the inter-agency feedback management system.
According to Ms Sim, agencies are also requested to close straightforward cases only when any works on the ground have been completed.
"MSO will continue to help our partner agencies in attaining a high level of responsiveness to public feedback," Ms Sim said.
She added that Clementi Forest is currently not intended for public recreational use and encouraged people to keep to the designated trails within public parks and nature parks for their own safety, and to minimise impact on the natural environment.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Give some respite from North-South Corridor works on weekend nights​

June 1, 2023

Construction on the North-South Corridor continues to be a nuisance that residents in the Novena area, like me, have had to endure (North-South Corridor: 3 key gripes from residents and how LTA is dealing with them, Jan 25).
The official statements from the Land Transport Authority do not reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground as many times, heavy construction work goes on through the night on weekdays as well as weekends.
The only respite we look forward to is the weekend nights when, by law, no construction activity is permitted from 10pm on Saturday until 7am on Monday morning.
I wish to draw attention to a specific construction site along Thomson Road beside Goldhill Shopping Centre which has flouted this requirement consistently every weekend.
We have lodged repeated complaints with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and National Environment Agency (NEA), all to no avail. All we get is a generic response that they will monitor the situation, with no enforcement action taken.
What enforcement measures will LTA and NEA take to ensure that residents can at least be given two peaceful nights of sleep over the weekend and not have to suffer incessant construction noise disturbance?

Daniel Tan Yang Sheng (Dr)


Alfrescian (Inf)

MOH to work on improving accessibility to polyclinic appointments: Janil​


Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary emphasised that there has to be a balance between online bookings and walk-in slots. PHOTO: ST FILE
Lee Li Ying

July 4, 2023

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) will work on optimising polyclinic appointment bookings for those doing so online and walking in, to address the difficulties faced by less technologically savvy seniors in making online bookings.
This comes after MPs again raised these concerns in Parliament, after doing so in May.
On Tuesday, Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) said seniors had given feedback that it was “almost impossible” to make an online booking, while Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) said residents in his ward had “significant difficulties” with online appointments.
Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) also filed parliamentary questions on what safeguards exist to ensure access for seniors aged 65 years and above who cannot go online to book appointments or find that such slots are fully booked.
In laying out the reasons for the issue, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said that the healthcare system is facing increasing demand as people age, while the completion of new polyclinics had been delayed because of the pandemic.
As a result, some polyclinics have greater demand and appointments are less easily available, said Dr Janil.

Pending the development of new polyclinics, short term measures have been put in place, he added.

“The polyclinics will set aside some slots for walk-in patients with urgent medical needs, as well as for elderly patients, particularly those who are frail and have mobility issues. To do so, non-urgent cases may be given an appointment for another day or advised to seek treatment at a nearby Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) GP clinic,” Dr Janil said.
“Polyclinics will also try to leverage telemedicine as much as possible, and contract private GPs to help deliver the service.”
Ms He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) asked whether it was possible to release polyclinic next-day appointment slots in a few fixed tranches rather than a single release at 10pm.

Responding to Ms He, Dr Janil said that some polyclinics already adopt such a practice. “However, this does not solve the issue of capacity constraint and in fact may frustrate patients more if they are repeatedly unable to book appointments,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh raised the possibility of increasing the number of walk-in slots at polyclinics.
In response, Dr Janil said that while that was possible, it does not address the heart of the issue, which is the overall capacity available at the polyclinic. He acknowledged that there was frustration with the online system for seniors, but others are able to use it.
“As a result, the availability of the resources and the capacity for the services at the polyclinic are better matched to those patients. It means that clinical notes are available ahead of time, preparations can be made for investigations and tests.”
He emphasised that there has to be a balance between online bookings and walk-in slots.
“If we went to a fully walk-in system, that would have an implication on the ability for the care teams to deliver the service that they are used to delivering. If we went to a fully online system, indeed, the frustrations that members in this house have highlighted will become worse.”

Dr Janil added that the best way to determine the balance is left to the operational teams running the polyclinic to account for their capacity, the services they deliver, and the demographics of the population, which can vary over time.
“We’ll continue to work together with cluster management and operational teams that run the polyclinics to see how we can optimise the correct balance of online appointments, appointments made at an earlier time, same-day appointments and walk-ins,” said Dr Janil.
In response to requests for information from two MPs, Dr Janil said MOH did not have the data sought.
Dr Tan had asked for monthly data showing how fast online booking slots are fully reserved, and how many patients logged into the polyclinic online appointment booking system the night before a consultation date but did not proceed to book one.
Mr Singh had asked for the percentage of walk-in slots set aside and the number of complaints from those unable to book appointments online, but Dr Janil said such data was not available.
To Prof Lim’s query if more of those who are booking online could be channelled to telemedicine options, Dr Janil responded that MOH is exploring that option.
However, he noted that professional teams would need to make the call on which patients would require an in-person appointment and which can be seen online.
“I think that’s something for a clinical judgement rather than a policy position, but we would support the teams so that we can optimise the use of telemedicine and make sure that we improve the capacity available at the polyclinics,” added Dr Janil.
Dr Tan suggested having a hotline that residents could call in for bookings, and Dr Janil said MOH will continue to explore such suggestions so that services available at polyclinics are more accessible and user friendly.
Dr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang SMC) raised the possibility of training active ageing centre staff to help seniors book polyclinic appointments. In reply, Dr Janil said MOH will be happy to explore how it can leverage on resources to be able to help people have better access and utilisation of services.