Demolition of old shophouses to alter Transit Road

Demolition of old shophouses to alter Transit Road
Row of shops at transit road are closing down to make way for new condos.

The area was once filled with the raucous sounds of soldiers having a good time as they spilled out of the bars along Transit Road. Though the British left in the early 70s, the New Zealand army stayed on until the late 80s.

But after they left, the shophouses along the 50m road that leads to Nee Soon Camp, began a slow journey into the corridors of our history.

That journey will end when the last remaining shophouses are torn down at the end of this month to make way for a condominium.

Some of the shops in the row have been around for decades. They have not changed much since they opened.

Lucky Store, which sells appliances, started in 1948.

The store's owner, Mr Michael Gurnani, 57, said it was originally his father's business.

He has mixed feelings about moving out. "When I was young, this used to be an entertainment hub," he said.

He said that from the late 1940s, the British used the area as a transit point for soldiers.

"There used to be bars and a lot more. It used to be much more colourful."

Now, just four shops remain open along the slope, which sees the occasional soldier passing through either to or from the camp.

CLOSING

A convenience shop in the row, run by Mr Koh Aik Hock, 47, will be folding by the end of the month.

Mr Koh, who has been manning the shop since his father opened it more than 30 years ago, said it was too expensive to relocate.

"We can't get this kind of rent anywhere else. It's just too expensive to continue," he said.

"I've lived in this area since young, and I'm sad to see it go, but what to do?"

His mother, Madam Yang Shui Fong, 78, who helps him tend to the shop, said: "I'm already so old. I guess it's time to stop working."

Hock Gift Shop, which sells army goods, will be relocating to Kaki Bukit.

Its owner, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chua, 68, used to sell items inside the army camp but moved outside about 30 years ago. "It was a good location but business isn't that good now," he said.

"It used to be much better. It's time to move on."

Mr Ramlal Aitabir, 56, a tattoo artist, also plies his trade in a shop in the row too.

He took over the shop, Danny Tattoo Art, from his father who died in 1976. He has been tattooing at the shop since then.

He is still looking for a place to relocate to. "I was born and raised in this area, though I live in Woodlands now," said Mr Ramlal.

"But I'll still be sad to see it go."

davidsun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 21, 2015.
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