Construction din riles more residents

Construction din riles more residents 

By Jermyn Chow 


THE incessant din from piling, hacking and demolition works at construction sites is driving residents up the wall.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) heard 9,228 complaints last year, nearly double the 4,953 in 2005.


If more residents are getting riled, that is because more old buildings are being torn down to make way for new ones, said an NEA spokesman.


Last year, about 6,380 worksites dotted the island – an increase of nearly 30 per cent from the previous year’s 5,020.


The complaints are coming in despite NEA’s efforts to put a tighter lid on noise levels since October last year.


The noise limits, however, are imposed only for weekday nights, Sundays and public holidays.


Between 10pm and 7am on weekdays, worksites within 150m of residential areas have to keep to 55 decibels over a continuous five-minute period – down from 60 decibels previously.


As normal conversation is about 60 decibels, this means workers can carry out only activities such as brick-laying, plastering and painting.


On Sundays and public holidays, the 7am to 7pm limit was slashed from 90 to 75 decibels. And from 7pm to 10pm, the limit is 55 decibels, down from 70 decibels.


Companies that violate these guidelines are fined up to $40,000. If the noise continues, NEA will restrict the contractors’ working hours.


But construction sites seem to be keeping it down, if NEA’s enforcement figures are anything to go by.


On average, NEA found a construction site busting the noise limit almost every other day last year. But the 237 worksites that created the din was fewer than the 398 in 2004.


Contractors contacted said they keep the volume down by using noise barriers and less noisy construction methods or equipment.


For instance, more contractors do bored piling – which involves drilling into the ground – instead of hammering the pile into the ground.


Some contractors would also go from door to door to apologise to residents for the inconvenience and, in some instances, placate the unhappy few with cakes or hampers, said Mr Desmond Low, project manager of Koon Seng Construction.


But the public relations exercise and tightened limits have not lessened the sound and fury of residents, who point out that while the worksites are quiet at night, they are deafening in the day.


Housewife Christine Goh Roske, 33, who lives in Ewe Boon Road near Balmoral, has to leave her house in the day to avoid hearing the three jackhammers banging away at the construction site next door.


‘I feel as if I’m being chased out of my own home…And I can’t close the windows as the house will be too hot and stuffy,’ she said.


Source: Straits Times

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