Singapore: Dredging on Bukit Timah Canal to Last for Two Years

The process of widening and deepening the Bukit Timah Canal may be completed within two years.

Mr Chris de Souza, an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, told The Straits Times that this is the tentative timeline after viewing the plans yesterday with officials from PUB, the national water agency.

It was also the news he gave to three representatives of residents of the Tessarina condominium off Bukit Timah at a closed-door meeting last night.

Said Mr de Souza, who was accompanied by two PUB engineers: “The canal, which is currently V-shaped, will be converted to a broad U-shape, which will have incredible capacity to absorb a lot more water.”

But it will take some time. In the meantime, he encouraged residents to recommend to the condominium’s management that interim measures such as crest protection be put in place.

Such protection makes use of shutter-like structures built on the ground level. When flooding occurs, the shutters will be activated so that water will be prevented from flowing into basements. Costs will be borne by the condominium.

Mr de Souza said he and PUB made this recommendation after Tessarina, which is along Wilby Road, was first hit by flooding in November last year. Then, some 100 cars in its 500-lot basement carpark were almost submerged after rainwater surged down the carpark entrance ramps.

But it was not put in place, and the early morning downpour last Saturday flooded the carpark again.

Said Mr de Souza, who initiated last night’s meeting after residents e-mailed him: “In dealing with this problem, it has to be work between the government and the private sector.”

Another possibility he is exploring is to raise the level of Wilby Road. He will meet Land Transport Authority officials next week to discuss this option.

Resident Tony Mok, 43, who was at last night’s meeting, said it was a positive one. The head of training at a multinational corporation had to fork out $20,000 in car repairs after the flooding.

Of the time to widen the canal, he said: “We have to be practical, it takes time. The only thing is that it should have been done five years ago.”

Mr de Souza was not the only MP out yesterday to meet constituents and soothe nerves.

Dr Ong Seh Hong, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, was getting feedback from afflicted residents and shopkeepers in Changi Road during a walkabout.

While flooding occurs annually in the low-lying area, this year’s deluge ranked as “the worst”. Water last Saturday rose to calf-level, destroying products and furniture. Some newer buildings on high ground were spared, but older shophouses were badly hit.

Still, some residents kept their humour. One asked him to “tell the skies not to rain”, Mr Ong recounted with a laugh.

But turning serious, he added: “I think the drainage system can be improved. The drain is too shallow, so I am asking the PUB to see what they can do to deepen it.”


Source: The Straits Times, July 21, 2010;