Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Shhh! No noisy work near homes on Sunday mornings

THE noise from construction projects has long been the bane of residents hoping to sleep in on Sundays.

But there is hope for some peace soon.

From Sept 1, all new projects will have to stop work from 10pm on Saturday to 10am on Sunday.

This ban applies to any building project within 150m of a residential area. It also applies to the eve of public holidays and public holidays.

The duration of the ban will be further extended next year, with the stop-work rule stretching from 10pm on Saturday till Monday morning.

It will start from Sept 1 next year and apply to new projects that begin work then.

These measures, announced by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim in Parliament yesterday, were greeted with equanimity by contractors.

Mr Andrew Khng, president of the Singapore Contractors Association, told The Straits Times: ‘I don’t think it’s a huge burden. Contractors and workers also need time at the weekend to rest.

‘We will probably work harder during weekdays.’

Currently, contractors can bang away on Sundays as long as the noise level from 7am to 7pm stays under 75 decibels, which is close to the sound of a car travelling on a road.

After 7pm, the noise level has to go down to 65 decibels till 10pm, when all work must stop.

But, said MP Hri Kumar Nair, ‘there will be instances where the work will from time to time exceed the limit but not break the regulations because it is sustained’.

Added the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP: ‘This is of little comfort to those who have had their rest disturbed.’

Dr Yaacob admitted as much when he disclosed that 12,000 complaints were received last year. That is around 33 a day.

It was worse in 2008, when the National Environment Agency (NEA) received 14,000 complaints, up from 9,000 in 2007 and 6,000 in 2006.

MP Lim Biow Chuan (Marine Parade GRC) noted that construction noise in the middle of the night seems louder, as there is no other background noise to drown it out.

The NEA estimates that the new measures will raise construction costs by 2 to 2.5 per cent, and projects will take 10 to 17 per cent longer to finish.

While residents interviewed welcomed the move, they felt more could be done.

Mr David Seah, 54, whose Farrer Road home is a stone’s throw from the construction site of a Circle Line MRT station, suggested that the Government plant more trees and shrubs in his estate to act as a sound buffer.

Mr Seah, who works the evening shift in the food business, said: ‘They should consider people who do shift work.’

To reduce noise from cars and other vehicles, the NEA will introduce standards to match those of Japan and the European Union.

These will take effect from Oct 1 this year.

Source: Straits Times, 9 Mar 2010

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