Reply from Minister Vivian Balakrishnan Fw: 20120927 PUB – maintenance of DICs not a choice

Sent: Friday, September 28, 2012 12:08 PM
To: pipakh
Cc: Men Leong CHEW (PUB)
Subject: Re: 20120927 PUB – maintenance of DICs not a choice

Dear Mr Ang,
Thank you for your additional observations and suggestions. I agree that all DICs must be inspected and maintained regularly. PUB and NEA will do their best to ensure this.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have other feedback.
Best wishes,

From: phillip ang []
Sent: Thursday, 27 September, 2012 4:15 PM
Cc: Mohamad Maliki OSMAN (MND); MHA Masagos ZULKIFLI (MHA); MICHAEL PALMER; PNG ENG HUAT; pritam.singh; MCYS Sam TAN (MCYS); MEWR Vivian BALAKRISHNAN (MEWR); bga336; bokkoh; choonhock; cue_liew; jaya kumar; jjauto; ken_dxb; lchertan; news; newseditor; ngys; nicole.rebecca.seah; ongqyqy; stanley93896999; stlocal; sylvia; zblocal; toc; MND Boon Wan KHAW (MND); Chin Wee QUEK (NEA); Lawrence FONG (PUB); LTA CHAIRMAN; PUB Gee Paw TAN (PUB); PMO Hsien Loong LEE (PMO); MCYS Chun Sing CHAN (MCYS); gerald.giam; MND Benny LIM (MND); Ying-I YONG (PSD); MFA K SHANMUGAM (MFA); MOF Peter ONG (MOF); MHA Chee Hean TEO (MHA); PSD PS21 (PSD); AGO Email (AGO); Min Kwang LEE (LTA); Andrew TAN (NEA); NEA CHAIRWOMAN; Cheng Chwee YAP (LTA); PUB Men Leong CHEW (PUB); Nguan Sen TAN (PUB); TC GM TAMPINES; TC GM PRP; TC GM MOULMEIN KALLANG; TC GM EAST COAST; HDBCEO (HDB); MEWR Choi Shing Kwok (MEWR); yahoo; SPH LI YUAN YI Yuanyi; ST CHINLIAN; ST JONKWOK; ST NEWS
Subject: 20120927 PUB – maintenance of DICs not a choice

Dear Minister Balakrishnan

Thank you for your attention to my ninth feedback “20120924 PUB – throwing money down the drain (3)”.

2 During the last couple of days after my feedback, I have observed Drop Inlet Chambers (DICs) being cleared diligently.


Pasir Ris St 52 Tampines

(Happened to be returning home….. taken from bus)

3 I appreciate that much has been done recently but remain unconvinced PUB has a proper inspection/maintenance regime in place ie. PUB has not indicated it will not rely on contractors or public for feedback on obvious issues. Due to the persistence of an accountability issue, current efforts are also more likely short term measures.

4 The previous cleansing at St 52 Pasir Ris was carried out almost 1 year ago but for St 53, cleansing has not been evident for 2 years. My recent feedback appears to be the tip of the iceberg.

5 I decided to confirm other observations 2 days ago for the entire Drive 1 in Pasir Ris. (verification should have been done by the PUB months ago)

There were slightly more than 300 choked DICs, many serving no purpose. The total number of choked DICs which have been personally verified (PUB having seen such photos) is currently about 800. (email dated 24 Sep and 13 Sep)

DICs along of Drive 1, Pasir Ris, many totally choked

From this overhead bridge…… to this traffic junction, there were 22 totally choked DICs, in a row.

NEA’s idea of going green (below) should not be appreciated as it has confirmed there was zero maintenance for a very long time.

Float booms, litter traps etc are rendered useless when leaves remain stuck in drains. (below) If the PUB refuses to conduct physical inspection on DICs, is one to expect maintenance/inspections for devices such as litter traps etc at strategic locations? Will such devices not become the cause of future flooding? This problem has to be tackled at its source.

If the PUB had an inspection routine instead of totally relying on the NEA and public feedback, Calbee, McDonalds, ABC, trash bags etc need not end up in monsoon drains.

6 How is one to expect culverts to be well maintained when DICs have been brazenly ignored? Extrapolating from the 800 choked DICs identified along a few kilometres of road, which did not include older drainage inlets (below), I seem to have grossly underestimated the number of chokage along our 7000 km of drains. (not thousands, but tens of thousands)

7 Ex PUB Chief Executive Khoo Teng Chye said that “In fact, everyday, we have about 400 staff from the contractors and from PUB making sure that all our drains are well-maintained.” This was 2 years ago! With 400 staff, each would have needed to cover an area of less than 2 sq km. Including officers from the NEA, the extraordinarily large number of choked DICs is testament to systemic issues.

8 MEWR has to resolve issues between its agencies ie PUB and NEA. If the creation of another department within the NEA, the Department of Public Cleanliness, still results in choked DICs and a very large number of uncleaned drains, it is simply a waste of taxpayers’ money.

9 The PUB must do away with ‘zero physical inspection for PUB structures by PUB officers’. The practice of heaping blame on contractors and other agencies only perpetuates a problem. I hope you are agreeable to having all DICs inspected. Subsequently, every DIC has to be visually inspected at least every few months by the PUB, not its contractors. Without a regime of physical inspection on every part of the drainage system, human error should not be conveniently ruled out in flooding.

10 I hope the government has been convinced by my recent feedback. I will not be providing any more ‘evidence’ for some time and patiently await PUB’s seriousness to translate into action.


The underlying issue of accountability must be addressed. PUB has to review its organisational structure and how it intends to maintain ALL its assets. PUB must not insist on feedback to highlight its basic responsibility.

Thank you and have a nice day.


Phillip Ang



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