By Sarah Ng & Wong Jing Hui
THE new North Hill residential halls may be only five months old, but residents have already complained of flooding problems and poor telecommunication signals since moving into their rooms.
During a prolonged heavy downpour two weeks ago, students living in Tanjong, Binjai, and Banyan halls found the corridors along their rooms flooded with water.
Tanjong Hall resident Asyraf Kamil, 24, was greeted by the unpleasant sight of his floor’s pantry and corridor submerged in muddy water when he left his room.
“It was pretty shocking because it was the first time I have seen an enclosed area in hall flooded,” said the final-year student at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information, adding that the area had flooded at least three times since he moved into the hall last October.
Kamil also expressed concern that the wet floors could be a safety hazard for residents. “If someone is running, he or she may slip and fall,” he said.
The recent spate of wet weather has not favored residents at Binjai and Banyan Hall, who have also been plagued with soaked corridors on a regular basis.
Fourth-year School of Computer Science and Engineering student Zhang Jie, who lives at Banyan Hall, said the corridor outside his room had flooded thrice in a week because of the heavy rain.
He emailed the hall office to inform them of the issue and was told that they were currently working with contractors to solve the issue. However, improvements have not yet been made, he said.
Poor mobile reception
To add on to their woes, residents have also experienced poor mobile reception on their devices.
Banyan Hall resident Sheilla Yendri, 18, said she was completely unable to receive service on her mobile phone in her room, while the corridors also suffered from poor reception.
“There is only one bar displayed for mobile signal on my phone along the corridor, and I have to go out of the hall building whenever I need to take or make a call,” said the first-year School of Material Sciences and Engineering (MSE) student.
Over at Tanjong Hall, the situation was similar. While resident Lee Rong Jie Leslie, 21, is able to receive calls, he stated that the signal on his phone gets occasionally cut off when he dials out.
But the first-year student from the Nanyang Business School considers himself one of the luckier ones. He said his neighbours, in comparison, are unable to receive signals on their phones at all, and often have to move to an open area or the ground floor to use their mobile phones.
In response to queries from the Nanyang Chronicle, Chief Officer of Housing and Auxiliary Services Jimmy Lee said they are aware of the issues and are taking active measures such as alerting the mobile service providers about the poor mobile reception.
He added that the office has also mobilised more cleaners to keep the corridors dry in the event of another flooding.
Content with any room
But some residents interviewed said the teething troubles were a small price to pay for their rooms, especially for those who were previously unable to secure on-campus accommodation.
Completed in September last year, the North Hill halls consist of a total of six 13-storey blocks. The three halls can house over 1,850 residents and currently have an above 75 per cent occupancy rate.
In addition to common facilities such as study areas and air-conditioned lounges, the North Hill halls boast the university’s largest gym, which is located at Binjai Hall.
Ngo Shian Haw, 26, a fourth-year student from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was previously placed on the hostel waitlist and had to live off-campus for the last two years.
This semester, he managed to secure a room in Tanjong Hall.
Though wireless Internet connection in his room is unreliable, he said: “I think that building these new halls is good because it helps to reduce competition for hall rooms, which can be quite a stressful process.”
Despite the flooding problems, Quan Zee, a fourth-year School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, is content with his new single room at Binjai Hall.
“The price is slightly more expensive, and some students might not afford it. But I find my rental fee moderately affordable and the privacy I have is good,” he said.
The monthly rental fee of a non-air-conditioned single room in each of the three North Hill halls is $390, the same cost as those from Pioneer and Crescent Halls.
Fees of the rooms at the older halls are lower, ranging from $245 to $395.
Banyan Hall resident Eddy Lim, 22, said: “For such an ambitious project, there should not be such small problems that impact residents in such a negative way.”
However, the fourth-year School of Computer Science and Engineering student remains optimistic about his stay.
He said: “The problems faced are an inconvenience, but they are not so extreme to the extent that I feel disappointed about living in Banyan Hall.”