SINGAPORE: Singapore Power has given S$2 billion in contracts for its largest infrastructure project to date for the building of two tunnels to house new transmission cables.
Five construction firms will jointly undertake the project to build the underground tunnels, measuring a total of 35 kilometres.
The firms are Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Nishimatsu Construction and KTC Civil Engineering and Construction Joint Venture, Obayashi Corporation, Samsung C and T Corporation, and SK Engineering and Construction.
Each firm will work on a particular segment of the tunnels.
The tunnels will allow for faster and more efficient maintenance and replacement of power cables, and will also help reduce the frequency of road-digging works whenever repair is needed for underground cables.
Construction will begin at year-end and will last till 2018.
Starting from Gambas, the North-South tunnel will be 18.5 kilometres long, ending at May Road. The North-South tunnel will be completed by 2018.
From Ayer Rajah, the East-West tunnel will stretch 16.5 kilometres, ending at Paya Lebar. The East-West tunnel will be completed by 2017.
The tunnels will be deep beneath Singapore's rail network, away from existing infrastructure near or at the surface.
They are sited under major public roads, at 60 metres, or about 20 storeys, below ground level.
Singapore Power's deputy managing director for Tunnel Projects, Michael Chin, said: "There will be inconvenience when you construct, obviously. Traffic is first understanding the traffic pattern, making sure you avoid the peak hour, having proper traffic marshals on site so that they can control traffic coming in and out. And not blocking up the roads."
The tunnels will also not encroach into any private properties, so there is no need for the acquisition of such properties.
Singapore Power is coordinating with eight agencies, including the Land Transport Authority and Singapore Land Authority, to facilitate smooth construction of the project.
The completed project will resemble existing tunnels housing power cables and will be wide enough for a train to pass through.
The tunnels are meant to last 120 years. Each one can house up to 12 sets of power transmission cables.
But with a S$2 billion price tag, will people need to pay more for power?
Singapore Power's managing director, Sim Kwong Mian, said: "Two billion sounds like a big number but when it's spread over many years - as you can see the life of this tunnel is very long, the costs will be very marginal to our customers."
The project aims to deliver reliable, secure and quality power supply for future generations.
Singapore currently has five existing underground tunnels storing electricity cables - all shorter than the new ones that will be built.
The existing tunnels are around 30 metres beneath the surface.
Singapore Power does not rule out the building of even more underground tunnels to house power cables in the future.
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