Sports

Big task to get walkways and carparks ready

There were muddy tracks, slabs of broken concrete that passed for roads and steel rods strewn this way and that - all par for the course for a construction site that was also typically pockmarked by piles of rubble and excavators. 

This was the state-of-the-art Singapore Sports Hub, less than four weeks away from hosting its first international sporting event.

Singapore Sports Hub Pte Ltd, the consortium that runs the 35-hectare facility at Kallang, is pulling out all the stops to complete the construction of its sporting venues, but the public spaces between facilities could prove to be another huge challenge.

With covered walkways looking some way from completion, some pavements unfit - indeed, unsafe - for public use, and carparks still not ready, the Hub is poised for a difficult transition from the construction phase of the $1.33 billion project, to handling operational matters. 

Responding to queries from The New Paper yesterday, Philippe Collin Delavaud, chief executive of the consortium, said: "As we move towards the operational stages during this phased approach, we are working closely with government agencies to ensure a smooth transition, and that we deliver a safe and accessible facility to all Singaporeans." 

The Sports Hub's phased opening was originally scheduled to kick off last month, but its first facility - the OCBC Aquatic Centre - was unveiled only 
on Monday.

FIRST PART 

Speaking at the sidelines of the event three days ago, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Lawrence Wong, said the completion of the sports facilities on time was only the "first part" of the Hub's job in getting the facility ready. 

"It's not just about completion of construction, but also about transitioning from construction to commissioning and operations, and that's really the most critical phase in any major project like this," said Mr Wong then, pointing out that crowd control, traffic management and even clear signages around the facility - all operational factors that will ultimately contribute to public assessment of the Hub - could be an onerous exercise. 

"You can be sure there will be teething issues." 

In addition to walkways, parking could be another major issue. 

The carparks at the Hub didn't look ready when the media visited the National Stadium yesterday, and there could be a ready-made solution to that: the vast open-air carpark space in front of the adjacent Kallang Leisure Park. 

Delavaud did not address the carpark issue specifically, and said: "This is the first development of its kind in Singapore and even the region, and one of the largest in the world.

"The scale and multiple facets of this project mean that we must conduct very thorough testing of systems and ramp up operations at a controlled pace.

"This is not uncommon for major infrastructure developments. Rest assured that we are working closely with government agencies on these plans, and will be sharing details soon once confirmed."

The Sports Hub will host three events next month - the TYR South-east Asia Swimming Championships presented by Yakult (June 16- 24) at the 6,000-seater Aquatic Centre, the 6th World University Floorball Championship (June 18-22) at the OCBC Arena, and World Club 10s rugby tournament at the crown jewel, the 55,000-capacity National Stadium - before its community-event opening on June 27 and 28. 

All three have been designated as test events in the lead-up to the opening of the Hub.