Monday 23 April 2012

HDB wraps up main upgrading exercise (MUP)

$3.3 billion spruce-up of old estates over two decades complete with Teck Ghee makeover
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 22 Apr 2012

The curtains came down on the Housing Board's landmark exercise to upgrade old housing estates yesterday, as Singapore's final Main Upgrading Programme (MUP) project in Teck Ghee was declared completed.

And fittingly, the last project was done at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, just next to one of the first precincts to undergo the MUP more than 20 years ago.

In 1990, an estate in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 was among the initial batch of older neighbourhoods chosen for a spruce-up under the programme that has since covered more than 120 HDB precincts.

Celebrating the completion of the Teck Ghee MUP last night was its MP, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 'It's over 20 years from the first to the last project, and in these 20 years we've benefited many Singaporeans,' he said at a dinner.

More than 130,000 homes have gained extra rooms, new toilets, window grilles and better living conditions, he noted.

'Hence, the value of flats has risen,' said Mr Lee. His Teck Ghee ward is in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

The PM took pains to stress that the Government has footed most of the bill of $3.3 billion to retrofit older housing estates over the past two decades. Residents have paid between 7 per cent and 64 per cent of the cost, depending on the type of flat and the upgrading works done.

The MUP was first conceived as a way of modernising older HDB estates. Most were basic and spartan, having been built during Singapore's early years when the priority was to house as many people as quickly as possible.

The programme was popular throughout the 1990s for raising home values, and earned a reputation as a political carrot that was dangled ahead of elections: Voters were told their wards would get priority if they voted for the People's Action Party.

Announcements of major MUP projects were also watched closely as possible signs of an impending general election.

But the programme's lustre waned in the last decade, with two estates - Pandan Gardens and Pelton Place - voting against it in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

The massive scale of the works - with some residents describing it as living on a construction site for years - plus a growing demand for flexibility in upgrading options led to HDB discontinuing the MUP in 2007.

In its place, smaller upgrading schemes such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme and the Home Improvement Programme were launched. These give residents a choice in what they want upgraded and are generally less disruptive.

Mr Lee noted that newer HDB flats come with improved features that the MUP had delivered to old estates, but promised to continue upgrading public housing through newer programmes.

'We are now at a high level,' he said. 'But we haven't stopped.'

Political watcher Zulkifli Baharudin noted that delivering quality housing for Singaporeans has been a cornerstone of the PAP's social compact with voters since it was first elected into government.

'Despite the fact that so much has already been done to provide and improve housing, it will always be a moving target as expectations keep rising,' he observed.

No comments:

Post a Comment