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Thread: Hillview landslide: Homes still in disrepair

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    Default Hillview landslide: Homes still in disrepair

    May 10, 2007

    Hillview landslide: Homes still in disrepair

    Access difficulties earlier slowed down works to stabilise slope: BCA

    By Tracy Sua

    BUSINESSMAN V. Seek and his wife have not been able to return to their Hillview estate home for the past four months.

    Their kitchen is buried in mud, the dining room walls are cracked and the roof has been breached by a fallen tree - no thanks to a landslide on Jan 12.

    And Mr Seek, now living in a rented three-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio, has no idea when he can move back.

    The problem: Work on his house cannot begin until the top of the slope, under which it sits, is stabilised.

    The landslide caused soil to slip along a 50m stretch behind Chu Yen Street and next to Chu Lin Road, affecting eight houses - five of which have since been declared safe.

    But the National Parks Board (NParks), which owns the area on top of the slope, has not finished stabilisation work.

    Said Mr Seek: 'Our society is so efficient, so why does this take so long?'

    Mr Seek's home, owned by his sister, is one of three houses - units 56, 58 and 60 - in Hillview estate still deemed unsafe.

    The damage ranges from slight cracks in the backyard retaining walls to soil inside the homes to buried kitchens and collapsed walls.

    Responding to queries over the delay in slope repairs, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said the Chu Yen Street landslide covers a very large area.

    The slope is narrow, restricting access for NParks excavators and the machinery needed to cut and remove trees, excavate the soil and trim the gradient to make it gentler.

    The BCA said work on the slope would be finished 'soon' but did not give a date.

    An engineer retained by the affected home owners told The Straits Times that a temporary path to allow excavators and machinery to access the slope was completed in early March.

    Mr Kelvin Lim said that NParks had to earlier clear the trees manually, using trolleys, as heavy machinery could not be used then on the unstable soil.

    Since then, some earth has been removed to make the slope gentler.

    Terraces are now being completed, and they will form a stable platform for the home owners to construct permanent protective structures.

    Some of the homes - such as units 58 and 60 - have debris piled 1 1/2 storeys high and large cracks in their structure.

    Part of the houses will have to be demolished and reconstructed, said Mr Lim.

    The landslides occurred after heavy rain in December and January, which led also to flooding in several areas.

    The BCA had then asked eight families to stay away from their homes which were deemed unsafe.

    But a week after the landslides, a few households were allowed back in.

    They had either put in temporary structures such as wall supports, or cleared up the debris.

    One of Mr Seek's neighbours, who moved back in about a week ago, is still worried about more landslides.

    The woman, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Lee, said her backyard has been cleared of debris, but a permanent retaining wall has yet to be constructed.

    She and her seven family members had been staying in a flat temporarily for the past four months.

    While Mrs Lee is thankful for the work done by the BCA and NParks, she is 'still very anxious every time it rains'.

    She gets Mr Lim, the engineer, to come by every week to check that her home is safe.

    At another landslide which also occurred on Jan 12, three houses along a slope near the Jalan Dermawan playground were affected.

    None of the families has been able to return as yet.

    The BCA says that work to make the slope gentler is almost complete and residents will be able to move back in soon.

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