(SINGAPORE) The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) yesterday announced that it is acquiring some 600,000 square feet of land for the construction of the first stage of the North South Expressway - stretching from Admiralty Road West to Toa Payoh Rise.
Market observers say this is its first major compulsory land acquisition in about a decade. The last time it bought land on such a large scale was in 2001, when it acquired about 860,000 sq ft of land to build the Kallang/Paya Lebar Expressway and the second part of the Circle Line. Then, about half of the 126 affected owners of homes, shops and offices in Paya Lebar and Geylang said the amount of money offered by the SLA as compensation was not enough.
An SLA spokesman said compensation will be pegged at market value as at the date of acquisition, in accordance with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act made in 2007.
A collector's inquiry will be conducted by the Collector of Revenue to determine the quantum of the compensation award. Owners affected by the acquisition will also be asked to submit their claims to the Collector of Revenue.
While the acquisition this time round is unlikely to trigger the sort of discontent that was felt among property owners affected by the 2001 acquisition, market watchers said that the part lots - which are a cut of one plot of land - that are being bought over could create a tricky situation. In its statement, SLA said it will be purchasing 38 full lots and 33 part lots.
Said DTZ Debenham Tie Leung Statutory Valuation executive director Ng Poh Chue: 'If it cuts through part of your building, then what is going to happen?'
Then there is the issue of sentimental value that owners might have for their property, added Ms Ng.
She noted, though, that the government has been 'quite sympathetic' to land owners in such situations, and has been known to make ex-gratia payments in certain cases. An ex-gratia payment is a payout made without the giver recognising any liability or legal obligation, and is done voluntarily.
SLA said all affected owners will be given two years from the date of acquisition to vacate the premises. Its latest acquisition comprises a mixture of residential, industrial and institutional developments.
Separately, the SLA is acquiring some 7,445 sq ft of land forming part of Sabana Shari'ah Compliant Reit's property at 1 Tuas Avenue 4 for road works along Pioneer Road and Tuas Avenue 4 in connection with the Tuas West Mass Rapid Transit extension.
Sabana Real Estate Investment Management (Sabana), the manager of Sabana Reit, yesterday said that the plot represents about 5 per cent of the property's total land area, and that it would not affect its existing building structures there, said Sabana. 'The manager is of the view that as the existing building structures are not affected by the compulsory acquisition, the gross floor area of the building is not affected and there should be no impact on the rental payable by the lessee of the property.'
Sabana will engage a licensed valuer to assess and submit a compensation claim for the affected site.
SLA also stated in its notice that Sabana Reit is entitled to a one-time ex-gratia reimbursement for the preparation of the valuation report, said Sabana.