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Punggol residents rattled by cracked exterior wall of housing block, HDB says no structural issues

SINGAPORE — For months, residents of a public housing block in Punggol have been looking at a large, highly visible crack on an exterior wall of the block, troubled by whether it will give way and endanger lives.

Punggol residents rattled by cracked exterior wall of housing block, HDB says no structural issues

A view of a cracked wall on the third floor of Block 310A Waterway Terraces II in Punggol.

  • Photo of cracked facade of housing block in Punggol was put up in a Facebook group
  • Residents have been disturbed by the fragmented wall
  • Some reported that there are cracks or crack lines within their flats
  • The authorities said that there is no issue with the safety of the building

 

SINGAPORE — For months, residents of a public housing block in Punggol have been looking at a large, highly visible crack on an exterior wall of the block, troubled by whether it will give way and endanger lives.

On Monday (Aug 3), pictures of the cracked facade went up in a closed Facebook group made up of Punggol Waterway Terraces II residents, causing more people to express grave concerns and raising questions on the structural integrity of the building.

Finally on Friday, in a joint reply to TODAY, the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said that it had carried out an inspection at Block 310A Punggol Waterway Terraces II on Tuesday and ascertained that there is no issue with the safety of the building.

They said that the fault line had to do with the slight misalignment of precast panels.

The crack — which was between two separate precast panels on the third floor of the block — are non-structural components and will be rectified by HDB and the town council.

Some residents, such as Mr Lee Kee Hong who lives in a flat on the second floor, told TODAY that he reported the matter to the town council as early as February, but was told that the wall was safe.

The town council also said in its reply to Mr Lee that it will monitor the panels closely and will follow up with the repair and redecoration works.

However, Mr Lee, who did not disclose his age and occupation, said he is deeply concerned that the panel could break off and injure someone.

Similarly, a resident on the fifth floor who wanted to be known only as Mr Loh, said he is worried that the fragmentation would affect the structure of the floors above it.

Expressing his disappointment in the poor workmanship, the 67-year-old retiree said: “It’s only been five years and many residents here are already complaining of cracks in their flats and on the ceiling of their balconies… it’s very worrying. When I think about these things, I sleep with one eye open.”

CRACKS WITHIN APARTMENTS

Residents in neighbouring blocks interviewed by TODAY were also disturbed by the structure of the housing blocks in the estate, especially when they started noticing cracks in their own flats. 

One of them is Ms Celine Koh, who found two long cracks in the ceiling of her balcony when she collected the keys to her flat in 2017. 

The 36-year-old, who works in medical sales, said that these cracks were highlighted to an HDB officer on-site during an earlier defects check. 

“I was quite disappointed when I saw the state of the flat when I first received my keys. There were more than 60 defects, which took over a year to rectify.

Ms Celine Koh started noticed cracks in the ceiling of her balcony as early as 2017, when she got the keys to her flat. Photo: Celine Koh

“Despite the awards, the quality of this project seems bad, so I’m not really surprised to see things starting to fall apart so soon,” Ms Koh said, adding that she does not feel secure standing in the balcony of her own home. 

The design of Waterway Terraces won the HDB Design Awards in 2016, and was among 15 Singapore projects shortlisted in the World Architecture Festival the same year. 

Ms Koh made two reports — one on the cracks in her flat and another on the large crack at Block 310A — to the town council on Monday after seeing pictures of the fractured panels in the Facebook group. 

Similarly, Ms Sherina Liew, 40, found crack lines in two of her bedrooms. 

The freelance marketer and mother of two children aged three and four months, said: “Crack lines are fine with me... and it has been five years (since we moved in), so wear and tear is unavoidable.

“But I understand from some (residents) that crack lines appeared within the first couple of years of them living here. I think that is not quite acceptable. The cracked wall at Block 310A is definitely not acceptable.”

The Waterway Terraces estate — made up of Waterway Terraces I and II — is the first public housing project along the Punggol waterfront, which comprises 2,000 units and was completed in 2015. 

The project, won by Geneva-based architectural firm Group8asia in an international competition, boasts undulating balconies, cascading roof gardens and is within walking distance to a mall and Punggol MRT Station.

TODAY has contacted Dr Janil Puthucheary, Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency, for comment.

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Punggol HDB crack building residents

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