JTC CEO on Kranji woodland clearance: 'We do not run away from this responsibility.'

The plots of land that were erroneously cleared were about 4.5 hectares.

Zhangxin Zheng | February 22, 2021, 06:25 PM

Various agencies involved in the erroneous clearance of a woodland at Kranji Road/ Close provided background information on the site and address queries in a press briefing on Feb. 22.

JTC told the media that the site that was set aside for development measures 25 hectares.

As part of the former KTM railway line, it is now dominated with non-native Albizia regrowth.

Of this, 11.9 hectares have been cleared since March 2020 and the plots of land that were erroneously cleared were about 4.5 hectares in size.

JTC will not run away from this responsibility

JTC Chief Executive Officer Tan Boon Khai said that the agency is now looking into the exact details of why the clearance happened.

It is undertaking an internal review on some of the internal processes and procedures that could have led to any issues on the ground.

"We do strive to do better -- we acknowledge that we can do better and we must, and we will be doing that. As we, even as we are talking now," Tan said.

Tan also acknowledged that JTC has the overall responsibility for the site and will not shy away from its responsibility.

"We do not run away from this responsibility. We will not, nor do we intend to," Tan said.

Why a stern warning to Huationg?

Tan explained that during JTC's preliminary investigations, the contractor Huationg admitted that there was over-clearing on its part.

This has resulted in the company issuing an apology and a stern warning has been issued.

Investigations are ongoing, and the outcome of the investigations will determine the next course of action.

Penalties "not small" if breaches found

Commissioner of Parks and Recreation of the National Parks Board (NParks), Leong Chee Chiew also added that his agency will be investigating whether there were any breaches of the Parks and Trees Act and the Wildlife Act.

Leong highlighted the importance of a thorough investigation and avoiding prejudicing as "the penalties are not small".

Under the Parks and Trees Act, felling of a tree larger than 1 metre in girth carries a penalty of up to S$50,000 and any breaches under the Wildlife Act has the same hefty penalty plus a jail term of six months, Leong said.

"So this is serious. I will not make any assumptions at this point in time," Leong added.

Top image via Hor Teng Teng and Brice Li