Monday 24 November 2014

Ball court gives way to pre-fab childcare centre

By Toh Yong Chuan, The Sunday Times, 23 Nov 2014

A multi-purpose ball game court in Sengkang which attracted complaints about noise from local residents was torn up and replaced with a much-needed childcare centre - all within six months.

The NTUC First Campus' My First Skool in Compassvale Link - the first in Singapore to be built using pre-fabrication - was opened officially yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, anchor minister for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

It took just 41/2 months to build - half the usual construction time - because half of it was made and assembled in a factory and transported to the site for installation.

However, the ward's Member of Parliament Gan Thiam Poh would not be drawn into saying whether similar conversions will be made for other hard ball courts that have attracted similar complaints.

"(The conversion) had the support of my residents. I cannot speak for others," he told The Sunday Times.

The centre opened its doors to children in March and it soon won over locals. It currently provides 181 childcare places for three- to six-year-old children.

A retiree, who gave his name only as Mr Ng and is in his 60s, said: "It is better to hear the sound of children playing at 9am than teenagers making noise playing soccer at 9pm."

The development also helped to address the shortage of childcare places.

NTUC First Campus declined to reveal the cost of construction, which was overseen by contractor Derek Tan. He said: "We were contracted to build a centre that can last 10 years. I am confident it can last 20."

Parents are not bothered by how it was built. Teacher Ng Thiam Seng, 39, whose five-year-old daughter attends the centre, said: "What is more important is the location and the curriculum."

Despite the new centre opening, the constituency is still short of childcare places.

There are more than 100 parents on the waiting list, according to the centre's principal Moon Tan.

Mr Gan added that, to meet the demand, two more new childcare centres are in the pipeline for next year and 2017.

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