Resident posts photo of fallen facade of Pasir Ris HDB flat, MND Minister assured that HDB blocks are “safer than before”

On Monday (18 Jun), Facebook user Ye Ruoshi made a post about the facade of a HDB block falling. The incident is said to have taken place at Block 270 Pasir Ris Street 21, where the block of flats are around 20 years old.

She said in the Facebook post that the incident sounded like a “very loud cluster of thunders” and did not realise the wall covering had fallen off till her neighbours pointed to her to the fallen debris.

Ye’s infant daughter was affected by the incident and started to cry before being put to bed.

While no one was injured, Ye said that the purpose of posting the photo was to warn children not to play under the building or where there are windows: “拍下这一幕是为了再三提醒孩子们~千万千万别在组屋楼底下窗下走” !

Ye also commented that the residents were told that there are going to be some external upgrading starting soon and added, "Anyhow, this should not happen even if upgrading is coming soon."

By 5pm, TOC understand the debris has been removed and a temporary barricade has been erected around the site.

This is not the first time that such an incident has happened.

In September 2016, a concrete sunshade was dislodged on a 4-storey block at Tampines Street 23. Barely a month later, the façade of an older HDB flat at Block 51 circuit road fell off. In April 2017, 3m long metal bars had fallen off from a 40 year old block of flats at Indus Road.

In the Circuit Road incident, resident Gary Lim was quoted as saying that: "This estate has many elderly residents. They may not be able to walk away fast enough to avoid any falling objects. It's dangerous."

HDB lifts at Pasir-Ris Town Council have series of mishaps

The maintenance of the facades of HDB blocks are the responsibility of the town council. The block in question is under the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, which has its fair share of mishaps in its HDB blocks 

In May 2016, a 77 year-old man has passed away after a lift malfunction at Pasir Ris Street 21.

The victim wanted to reverse out of the lift in his motorised wheelchair but did not realise that there was a 25cm gap between the lift level and the ground. As a result, his wheelchair toppled and he suffered from a fatal skull fracture.

Five months later, part of the lift’s ceiling at Block 480 Pasir Ris Drive 4 fell and hit a 36 year-old man, his 63 year-old father and two year-old son. The man, Mr. Yazid, said that it was lucky that he stood at 1.84cm tall and managed to absorb some of the impact from his father and son.

"I am angry. What kind of lift is this?" My son cried loudly and had nightmares after. Now he's traumatised and afraid to enter lifts." The family had to spend $128 on medical bills at a nearby clinic.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong: HDB construction methods have improved and are safer than before

After the incidents in 2016, the issue was brought up in Parliament.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong had assured the house that HDB blocks are getting progressively safer and that the Building and Construction Authority are exploring ways to improve building façade safety.

Currently, building owners are required to appoint a professional engineer to do a Periodic Structural Inspection (PSI) every 10 years for residential buildings and every five years for other buildings.

Minister Wong said that the inspection is carried out every five years for older HDB blocks.

However, these checks only the structural parts like beams and columns but exclude façade features such as false ceilings, sunshades and cladding boards. In other words, there is no checks over the safety of such facades.

The Minister also assured that the safety of HDB blocks: "If you look at the way this has been done progressively over the years, I can say for sure that the methods have improved and the materials are more reliable and our buildings are safer than before."

What do you think? Is enough being done?