SINGAPORE: Upgrading work at Sengkang’s Rivervale Plaza will be completed in June next year, said North East District mayor Teo Ser Luck.
Mr Teo, who was tasked to oversee the Punggol East ward following the resignation of MP Michael Palmer, visited the mall on Sunday.
Mr Palmer, who was also the Speaker of Parliament, resigned over an improper relationship with a staff member of the People’s Association.
A new contractor has been appointed to take over the project. The upgrading project has been plagued by a series of delays and complaints.
Renovations at the Sengkang mall had started in mid—2011 and was expected to complete in September this year.
Works have stalled since August after the contractor, Technobuilt Construction & Engineering, went bust.
The newly—appointed contractor, Hak Kian Enterprise, will start work next month in January.
Mr Teo said: "Work starts immediately and the contractor will have to review the whole site and quickly get into the work itself. Of course we’d like them to complete earlier than expected, but we want to ensure residents’ safety. Inconvenience to residents will all be lessened, and also safety to the workers (has to be considered) as well, just to make sure that even if (the workers) complete the project, it has to be of quality."
In October, the area’s former MP, Mr Palmer had said it will take three months to award the project to a new contractor. Hak Kian, one of nine bidders, was awarded the project recently.
The delays have resulted in falling profits for tenants as customers started going to nearby shopping malls such as Compass Point and Rivervale Mall.
"Business is very poor. Sales dropped by about 70 per cent," lamented a tenant in Mandarin.
Tenants also complained about poor ventilation and leakages.
The management said they have received feedback from the tenants and they have put up bigger signage boards, as well as light fixtures. They also are trying to tackle water leakages and ventilation problems.
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said the facelift will convert the mall into an air—conditioned one and also expand its floor space to add more shops, toilets and an escalator.
The Rivervale Plaza was completed in 1999, and HDB decided last year to upgrade the mall to better serve the residents.
Tenants have been given a 40 per cent rental rebate from January to June 2013 to help ease their operating costs.
Mr Teo also gave an update on how he has been juggling constituency work and looking after the needs of Punggol East residents.
The Meet The People session at Punggol East has been moved from Monday to Tuesday, so that Mr Teo can attend to his residents in Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC on Mondays.
"I think for Michael, he has to move on from here and I think he also needs the space," Mr Teo said. "I try not to disturb him and I think as a friend and as a close friend and as a good colleague, I should do my part to help him move on with his life."
Mr Teo added that he has spoken to Mr Palmer after his resignation about handover matters.
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