SINGAPORE – Major transport infrastructure projects such as Changi Airport Terminal 5 and new MRT stations could be delayed if the coronavirus outbreak drags on, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Thursday (March 5).
Mr Khaw told the House his ministry has been tracking the impact of the outbreak on infrastructure projects.
“For now, the delay to project timelines is still manageable,” he said.
“But if the outbreak drags on, it could disrupt the supply of construction equipment and materials. This could impact the timeline for Terminal 5, Tuas Port, new MRT stations, and the next-generation ERP system,” he said.
He said new trains for the rail network are being built in China, where the sprawling industrial sector has slowed to a crawl amid tough measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
New trains that are manufactured in China include those that for the Thomson-East Coast MRT line and the Bukit Panjang LRT network.
In the short term, Mr Khaw said the coronavirus is “wreaking havoc around the world”.
Within Singapore, public transport operators have been hit hard, he said during the debate on his ministry’s budget.
“As fear grips, people telecommute more and go out less. Along with reduced tourist arrivals, our bus, rail, taxi and private-hire car ridership have fallen by about 20 per cent,” he added.
Meanwhile, airlines at Changi Airport have cancelled more than 20 per cent of their scheduled flights and passenger volume at Changi has plunged by 25 per cent, with a further drop expected.
The cruise and ferry sectors have also been “devastated”, said Mr Khaw.
But he also noted that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has been cushioned by government measures to support various transport sectors, and thanked front-line transport workers for keeping the transport system going during this time.
He added: “The Covid-19 outbreak will burn out. Sooner or later, our economy and our industries will recover.
“While we attend to the immediate needs, we should also focus on the eventual recovery and make full use of this lull period.”
Companies can use this opportunity to transform and grow, while the Government can press on with its construction projects in the infrastructure sector, he said in response to Mr Sitoh Yih Pin (Potong Pasir).
“On the domestic land transport side, we stand ready to speed up over $100 million worth of cycling path and road construction projects by up to three years,” he said.
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