SINGAPORE – Completion of upgrading works for a 900m section of the Bukit Timah Canal will be delayed from 2024 to 2026 to align with the development of a green corridor in the same area, to minimise disruption.
Dovetailing both projects would avoid prolonged traffic diversion along Bukit Timah Road, and the inconvenience it would pose for residents, motorists and business owners, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu told Parliament on Tuesday.
National water agency PUB started work in 2019 to widen and deepen the stretch of Bukit Timah Canal from Rifle Range Road to Jalan Kampong Chantek to increase its rainwater capacity by 30 per cent.
This would mitigate the risk of it overflowing, as the Bukit Timah area is prone to flash floods after heavy and intense rain.
“Since the announcement of PUB’s upgrading plans... NParks (National Parks Board) has also confirmed plans to implement the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor in the same area. PUB has been working closely with NParks to dovetail the drainage improvement works with the green corridor works,” said Ms Fu.
“However, as a result, the completion of drainage improvement works will be delayed from 2024 to 2026. We seek the patience and understanding of stakeholders during the construction works,” she added.
Ms Fu was responding to Mr?Christopher?de?Souza?(Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who asked if the drainage improvement works could be expedited.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr de Souza said residents have, for a few years now, been concerned about peak-hour traffic congestion along Bukit Timah and Dunearn roads arising from the drainage improvement works. With several schools located in the area, traffic is also an issue for students and parents during drop-off and school dismissal times, he added.
In January 2022, Mr de Souza had also asked the House for updates on the upgrading works and the estimated date of completion. Back then, the works were expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.
Dunearn Road has been a hot spot for flash floods, with a 200m stretch near Sime Darby Centre recently affected on July 20.
Singapore has been enhancing its drainage network to adapt to the impact of climate change, which brings on more erratic weather patterns and intense rainfall that would exacerbate inland flooding.
PUB has invested almost $2 billion in drainage improvement works in the past decade, and another $1.4 billion has been set aside to carry out further improvements to the drainage system from 2021 to 2025, said Ms Fu. But at the same time, it is not feasible to expand the drains to cater for every extreme rainfall event, the minister added.
The first phase of the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor is estimated to be completed by 2027, and the 1km-long park will run along the Bukit Timah Canal. It will include an elevated sky park above the canal from the Rail Corridor to Jalan Kampong Chantek.
Mr de Souza said his residents are looking forward to the sky park and better accessibility to Rochor with the upcoming green corridor.
With a few years to go for both the canal upgrading and park development, traffic congestion and inconveniences have to be reduced for residents in Bukit Timah and Dunearn Road, he added.
“With dovetailing, we need to be sure that the works for both projects are carried out in a complementary way. We need better diversion measures and to ensure that traffic light timings are synchronised to maximise traffic flow.”
Mr de Souza said he will continue meeting with PUB and the Land Transport Authority on this matter.
On Tuesday, Ms Fu noted that climate change does not only bring about heavy rainfall, but also drier weather conditions, which may affect Singapore’s water supply.
“Long-term planning and investment in weather-resilient water sources like Newater and desalination are important,” she said.
“In the last five years, PUB has invested about $3 billion in key long-term water supply investments, including desalination plants, Newater factories, and expansion of its used water infrastructure, and will continue with such investments,” she added.