The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has identified a total of 2,570 potholes on Singapore roads in January this year alone, which is the highest number ever recorded in a single month and double the amount in a typical wet season month, said Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor in Parliament on Monday (1 February).
Dr Khor added that about 95 per cent of those potholes have been repaired, and LTA is working on to fix the remaining ones.
“As of 31 January, about 95 per cent of the potholes have been repaired. Safety-critical ones have been prioritised for repairs,” she said.
Dr Khor said this in response to questions asked by People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Melvin Yong Yik Chye, who wanted to know the number of potholes reported on public roads in Singapore in the last six months, as well as the average time LTA takes to repair these damages.
The Senior Minister explained that LTA conducts “frequent inspections” on public roads in the country to detect road detects, which includes potholes.
“Expressways are inspected weekly, major roads fortnightly, and all other roads once every two months,” she said, adding that LTA also receives feedback from the public about road defects and conducts follow-up investigations.
Unfortunately, the wet weather conditions have exacerbated the wear and tear of the roads’ infrastructure, resulting in more potholes appearing on the roads.
“More potholes appear on our roads during periods of heavy sustained rainfalls due to continuous seepage of water into the road pavements. January 2021 was an exceptionally wet month with very heavy and prolong rainfall,” Dr Khor said.
She added, “When a pothole is identified, LTA typically tries to repair it within 24 hours. In January 2021, LTA has tripled its manpower for road repairs. Unfortunately, heavy rain hampers pothole patching works because the road surface needs to be dry in order for the patching materials to bond properly.”
Two incidents of soil erosion reported last month
Dr Khor revealed that two episodes of soil erosion occurred last month at two different sections of the slope surface along the slip road from Tampines Expressway (TPE)-Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) to Loyang Avenue and Tampines Avenue 7 due to the heavy downpour.
She said the soil erosion happened despite LTA lining the slope with protective covering.
“For the first incident on 2 January, LTA repaired the eroded surface and lined about 70 metres of the slope adjacent to the incident site with concrete. The other areas did not show any anomalies but LTA continued to closely monitor the entire sub-slope as a safety precaution.
“When the second incident occurred about 100 metres away from the first erosion, LTA was able to detect it immediately and lined it with concrete as well. In both incidents, the slip roads were properly closed off as a safety precaution and traffic redirected from the area,” Dr Khor said, adding that no other soil erosions along the slopes near roads were detected in the last year.
Dr Khor also said that the LTA carries out quarterly inspections at around 200 slopes located near roads in order to look out for any anomalies.
However, during the rainy season, the Authority increased the “inspection frequency for steeper slopes to weekly” given that there’s a higher risk of soil erosion.
“When such incidents happened, be it potholes or slope erosions, our priority is rapid response to minimise risks of safety. In addition, LTA also undertakes preventive measures such as resurfacing roads based on conditions assessments of the pavement to enhance their durability.
“Because these resurfacing roads can be disruptive to motorists and costs, we do it in a targeted way. For slopes, if pre-emptive measures are deemed necessary, they will be lined with protective covering to prevent rainwater from seeping into the soil or reinforce with retaining water to enhance their stability,” Dr Khor explained.
She said this as a reply to a question asked by PAP MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Sharael Taha, who wanted to know the long-term plans for pre-emptive measures to safeguard against weather-induced problems on roads and traffic in Singapore.
Additionally, Mr Melvin also asked about recourse that motorists can seek when their vehicles are damaged by potholes, to which Dr Khor replied that insurance providers will help motorists with compensation in relation to such damage.