No more mass jams now

No more mass jams now
The roads outside Novena Church get congested whenever there is a service or mass on.

Since Mr Tan Koy Seng moved to Novena Terrace almost 30 years ago, he and his family have got used to the weekly madness on the main roads just outside their home.

Vehicular and human jams occur whenever there is a service at the Novena Church.

Every weekend, as many as 20,000 devotees turn up for the service, which is popular even with non-Catholics.

Now, with Novena Church closed for two years for redevelopment, the residents there will have a respite from the jams.

On weekends, it used to take Mr Tan 10 minutes just to get to Thomson Road and another 10 to get out of the jam.

The 65-year-old said in Mandarin: "After so many years, I've got used to the crowd, but I feel that people should learn to compromise at times and be considerate to one another."

At times, the churchgoers pack their cars on the quiet lane where Mr Tan lives, leaving him very little room to manoeuvre his car out.

One of his neighbours, who gave his name only as Mr Lee, said: "It will definitely be a relief from all the hassle for the next two years."

Mr Lee also takes up to 10 minutes to exit to Thomson Road as seemingly endless streams of devotees cross the start of Novena Terrace towards Novena MRT station.

"We have to slowly force our way through or they would just continue walking," he said.

Another resident, Mr George Wong, said that while the next two years would bring "peace on earth", he was worried that when the church reopens, the problems will be even worse.

"I read that they were increasing the church's capacity, so I'm not looking forward to that," he said.

The Novena Church will expand its seating capacity from 700 to 2,000.

For now, the devotion service on Saturdays and weekday mass will move to Church Of The Risen Christ in Toa Payoh. Many Toa Payoh residents who live opposite the church seemed unaware of the move.


Madam Lim Guet Meng, a cashier at Danroll Cake Shop, said she heard of the move from customers.

She said: "My customers told me that we would get busier with the churchgoers coming here."

Madam Lim Keng Hong, a housewife who lives in the area, said in Mandarin: "It's usually a human jam, especially when they cross at the traffic light.

"There are times when the light turns red and there are still people crossing."

This article was first published on Sep 29, 2014.
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