Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Building of North-South Expressway & bringing the soul of the Singapore City back

Early this week, Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that it will acquire quite a number of sites for its construction of the North-South Expressway. Some of the buildings which will be affected are the blocks of flats at Waterloo streets which are familiar to Singaporeans as they stand out in their iconic stripes of colours. The few shops around these flats consisting mainly of shops selling religious artefacts will have to shift too.

I am quite dismayed that these blocks of flats and shops at Waterloo Street will have to make way for the North-South Expressway. These flats are a solace to Singaporeans in our super-hectic lifestyles as they look like giant art pieces and are pleasing to our eyes. It seems that with the continuous redevelopment of Singapore, a lot of places which hold valuable memory to Singapore have to give way. The old National Library, Bukit Brown, the old railway are among the places which hold good memory to Singaporeans that have to give way to modern developments.  In their places are giant shopping malls and places which are more of tourist attractions than places which benefit the locals such as the Gardens by the Bay and many more.
I am concerned as to whether the construction of the North-South Expressway will lead to more floods. Though there is no evidence to demonstrate that the recent mass excavation underground for more places and infrastructure lead to more flooding, Singaporeans in general believe that these are the reason for the recent spate of flooding. Take for example, Orchard Road which has seen quite a number of tunnelling works to build basement shops of new shopping centres like Ion Orchard. In the past, Orchard does not flood that easily, but nowadays when it rains, parts of Orchard Road will flood.
Though the authorities say it is climate change which causes Singapore to experience increased flooding these days, I find that the duration and intensity of rain which falls in Singapore these days are not unlike the rain in the 1980s to the 2000s. But it floods so much easily at all local places now.
I am not against modern developments but Singapore is getting more and more crowded and its landscape getting more and more predictive and monotonous: shopping centres, air-conditioned integrated mega-infrastructure.  I feel that Singapore should not build any more shopping centres, Singapore should preserve some pockets of land which are not touched by civilisation or modernization, land which are pockets of nature and which hold our old Singaporeans charms and memories in order for Singaporeans to seek a place for sanctuary and a place of sanity amidst this unrelentingly hectic pace of Singaporean life.
Stop economizing our landscape into one characterised by air-conditioned, cold metallic mega-structures which are built for economic value! I am getting more unhappy living in Singapore where our collective, prized, precious memories of our growing up are giving way to structures built for the economy. There will be no more soul in this Singapore city: only unfamiliar metallic superstructures with no meaning to Singaporeans. I can only wish that the authorities can stop their further development of the unspoilt charms in Bukit Brown, Biddari, Tengah and Jurong West. Ask ourselves, do we really need to increase our Singapore population? Do we really need to bring in hundreds of thousands of foreign workers all in the sake of having to play catch up in economic competitiveness? I believe if we are able to continue to maintain our population at 4.5 million to 5 million, we would need not destroy all our collective memories of the places we hold dear in order to build more roads, more shopping centres, more integrated structures and so on and so forth. One day, the building and the excavation will reach a saturation point and by then, Singapore will have no more places to seek solace from the super-hectic life… there will no longer be any soul in our city. Worst if the reasoning of more tunnelling leading to more flooding is true, the day when Singapore floods like Bangkok can be a reality.

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