31 January 2009

Local firm wins final Marina expressway contract

The project includes reclaiming 9.1ha of land from the sea at Marina Wharf. Earlier issues in awarding the tender due to a wide gap in tender bids appears to have been resolved. Construction of the Marina Coastal Expressway has started. It is slated for completion by 2013.

Local firm wins final Marina expressway contract
Christopher Tan, Straits Times 31 Jan 09;
HOME-GROWN Hock Lian Seng Infrastructure has become the first and only local builder to clinch a contract for the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), Singapore's most expensive road.

Its $305 million bid pushes the cost of the 5km underground and undersea MCE past $4 billion, far outstripping that of the second costliest road here - the 12km Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) that cost $1.7 billion.

The new highway will connect the KPE to the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

Hock Lian Seng's portion - a 1km western stretch with slip roads leading to Maxwell Road - is the sixth and final civil contract on the 10-lane MCE.

The first five contracts were secured by Japanese and Korean builders.

The company's executive director Lim Peng Kiat told The Straits Times yesterday that it had 'put in a good and reasonable tender'.

'We're very happy to be part of this very prestigious project,' he said.

Hock Lian Seng's winning bid was half that submitted by its one and only rival bidder, a joint venture between Germany's Ed Zublin and Singapore Piling.

The disparity in the bids sparked talk among industry players, with some speculating that Ed Zublin may have priced itself out, and others reckoning that Hock Lian Seng may have under-estimated the cost of the project.

Referring to the project, which includes reclaiming 9.1ha of land from the sea at Marina Wharf, Mr Lim said: 'We are quite familiar with this kind of works. As with every job, we've priced in a reasonable profit.'

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) took four months to award this contract.

Its chief executive Yam Ah Mee said: 'We have chosen Hock Lian Seng after detailed evaluation of the bidders' technical proposals and pricing packages. We are pleased to award the final major MCE civil contract to a locally based company that meets our stringent safety, engineering and budget requirements.'

The tab on the MCE was initially put at $2.5 billion. Mr Yam attributed the cost overrun to 'several important factors', including 'steep cost increases of materials and resources' and the fact that soil conditions in the area have emerged 'considerably weaker' than expected.

He added that the latest building specifications laid out by the Building and Construction Authority and revised international fire-safety standards also added to the cost.

Hock Lian Seng is the name behind infrastructural projects such as the North-East Line's Buangkok MRT station and the Circle Line's Kim Chuan MRT depot, one of the world's largest underground train depots.

It is now building the Downtown Line's Marina Bay station and a new vehicular viaduct from Bartley Road to Airport Road.

Construction of the MCE has started. It is slated for completion by 2013.

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