Geylang river gets a new lease of life

Geylang river gets a new lease of life
A 'Pondok'-style pavillion, inspired by local Malay-style structure.

SINGAPORE - A revitalised Geylang river was officially opened by guest-of-honour Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC) on Saturday evening.

From a smelly river in the 1960s where slipways lined its muddy banks to a clean, utilitarian watercourse in the 1980s to the vibrant waterway today that connects the community, Geylang River has undergone a dramatic transformation over the years.

The river has been revitalised in the last two years under PUB's Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme.

To preserve the rich heritage of the area, PUB weaved in architectural and landscaping elements adopting the Malay Water Village concept along the 850- metre stretch of the Geylang River from Dunman Road to Guillemard Road.

These include shelters and railings designed to look like 'kelong' with their stylised stilts and posts; a gazebo elevated over the waters, reminiscent of 'Pondok' (a rustic-style pavilion inspired by the vernacular Malay-style structure for gathering and rest); and Songket-inspired designs on certain stretches of the park connector. This section of the river was also deepened and widened as part of drainage improvement for better flood protection.

ABC Waters design features such as a rain garden has also been incorporated to treat stormwater runoff using plants and soil media before it is discharged into the waterway. The rain garden helps to improve water quality in the river while beautifying the surrounding landscape and offering learning opportunities to nearby residents and students on stormwater runoff treatment and biodiversity.

To further enhance connectivity along the water edge, residents can look forward to an extension of the existing Geylang park connector which now provides connectivity between the Dakota MRT station and the residential, commercial and institutional facilities in the vicinity.

On the transformation of Geylang River, Ms Lilian Hui, 66 years old, who has lived in Geylang for 60 years said, "Geylang River has definitely changed a lot. In the past, the river was very dirty and smelly, and nobody dared to get close to it.

Today, I enjoy going for strolls and doing exercises along the clean and beautiful river. I believe the grassroots will be organising events and activities at the new community space created by this ABC Waters project."

Mr Tan Nguan Sen, PUB's Director of Catchment and Waterways, said, "ABC Waters at Geylang River is a unique project. While we enhance the waterway, we also preserved a part of our heritage by integrating nostalgic elements of Geylang into the project. Geylang River is one of five rivers that flows into the Marina Reservoir and forms part of Singapore's largest and most urbanised catchment - the Marina catchment. As residents relive their fond memories of the old Geylang along the river, we hope they will also take ownership of our waters and play their part in keeping our waterways clean and free of litter."

The ABC Waters Programme by national water agency PUB was launched in April 2006 to transform Singapore's water bodies beyond their utilitarian purpose into beautiful and clean streams, rivers and lakes, creating a vibrant City of Gardens and Water. Over 100 potential locations have been identified for implementation over the next 20 years.

As of December 2013, 23 ABC Waters projects have been completed, with an additional 23 ABC Waters certified projects completed by other public agencies and private developers. Going forward, at least 20 projects will commence in the next five years.


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