Transport projects may be further delayed by COVID-19 outbreak: Khaw

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan speaking with a trolley handler at Changi Airport's Terminal 3 transit area on 6 February 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — While the delay to transport infrastructure projects timelines is still manageable, a prolonged COVID-19 outbreak could disrupt the supply of construction equipment and materials, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Thursday (5 March).

Speaking during his ministry's Committee of Supply debate, Khaw told the House that such a scenario could impact the timeline for Changi Airport’s Terminal 5, Tuas Port, new MRT station and the next-generation Electronic Road Pricing system.

“For example, our new BPLRT and TEL trains are being built in China. We are working closely with our contractors to explore alternative sources of equipment and materials,” said Khaw.

But the 67-year-old stressed that the coronavirus outbreak will eventually burn out. “Sooner or later, our economy and our industries will recover. While we attend to the immediate needs, we should also focus on the eventual recovery and make full use of this lull period.”

And so, the government aims to position companies and workers to ride the eventual upturn, such as by accelerating the transformation of the rail workforce through the $100 million Rail Manpower Development Package.

Secondly, infrastructure plans will continue, Khaw said, with an extensive line-up of construction projects in the transport sector over the next five years. He noted that Changi Airport’s third runway will be operational by the mid-2020s, while the development of Terminal 5 is “well underway”.

On the maritime front, Tuas Port Phase 1 will handle about 20 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) of containers annually when fully operational in 2027. “When fully completed in the 2040s, Tuas Port will be the world’s single largest fully automated container terminal. It will meet the exacting demands of the world’s largest container ships,” said Khaw.

The minister added, “Together, these investments will grow our external connectivity and seize growth in the global transport of goods and people.”

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