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SINGAPORE: Residents at a Build-to-Order (BTO) project in Bukit Panjang suffered a three-hour water outage last Sunday (Mar 19), the second water supply disruption since they moved in about a year ago.

The town council has identified an electrical fault as the cause of the outage but the Member of Parliament for the ward is pursuing the matter with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the BTO contractors.

When one of the residents, housewife Connie Ong, turned on the tap on Sunday at her Senja Ridges BTO unit, she found that the water flow had dried up. 

“At first I thought that my husband had turned off the mains by accident,” said Ms Ong, 48.

She quickly discovered that this was a building-wide outage, corroborated by the messages on her block’s Telegram group chat.

The water disruption to residents at 638A Senja Close lasted from 11am to 2pm on Sunday.  

Apart from water being unavailable for a period, residents also reported cloudy, yellowish and muddy water from 2pm until 6pm on Sunday before the service was fully restored. 

The building experienced an electrical trip caused by a ruptured sanitary gasket at the control valve, said Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council (HBPTC) in response to TODAY’s queries.

Water then seeped into the electrical distribution board. Power supply to the water pumps at the block was thus disconnected as part of the electrical system’s safety features, the council explained.  

TODAY interviewed 10 affected residents who mostly said they felt frustrated or inconvenienced by the disruption.

Out of the 10, seven indicated that this was not the first time that a water disruption had occurred in their block.

Mr Hafiz Huzaifah, 33, said this was the third water disruption he had experienced after similar incidents in May 2022 and January 2023.

Most others had experienced two outages.

“It was really inconvenient for me as I needed to shower before going out, and my plans were affected,” said Mr Hafiz, referring to the incident last Sunday. 

Other residents recalled going downstairs to collect water using pails, or observing their neighbours doing so.

Ms Ong said her own cooking plans were affected, and others sent pictures via Telegram of bottles of water that they had purchased.  

Housewife Lina Mohamed, 34, said that her family had been lucky on Sunday as they had already showered and eaten breakfast before the disruption. 

“But in January I was a lot less lucky,” said Ms Lina. “It happened past 7pm and we had just come back, so the inconvenience was a lot more.” 

The incident in January was over the Chinese New Year weekend, much to the frustration of Chinese residents at Senja Ridges.  

Speaking to TODAY, a resident named Ms Lim, who declined to give her full name, recounted the tap turning off when her daughter was having a shower.

“I had to get drinking water to help her finish the shower. This was either Chinese New Year day one or two, so after visiting we went to my auntie’s house. We were really lucky that she lives nearby.” 

The residents whom TODAY spoke to had collected their keys and moved into the Senja Ridges project between February and April 2022. They had been living in their BTO flats for an average of one year. 

“It’s a new estate,” Ms Lim said. “I’m quite frustrated that this is happening.” 

“In particular, if the water is entering electrical circuits, isn’t there also a safety concern? Sure, having no water is frustrating, but thinking about safety hazards is even more concerning.” 


Responding to TODAY’s queries, Mr Edward Chia, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency’s Zhenghua ward, said: “Of course, this is absolutely unacceptable, and we are pursuing the matter with HDB and the contractors involved.”

However, he emphasised that the two incidents, in January and last Sunday, were unrelated and he does not want to cause panic among residents.

“The incident in January was due to human negligence,” he said. “Someone switched the water tank from auto to manual, so the tank did not fill up when it was depleted.” 

Ms Dorothy Cheung, senior public relations manager of HBPTC, said: “The town council has promptly checked similar sanitary connection and has completed a cycle of external pipes flushing to the entire block. 

“In the meantime, we are also checking in with the BTO contractor about the gasket failure.” 

TODAY has reached out to HDB for comment.

This story was originally published in TODAY.