Flash floods hit two eastern areas again

The same junction between Chai Chee and New Upper Changi roads (above) and Marine Parade Market and Food Centre were hit by flash floods on Wednesday afternoon for the second time this week. PUB said drainage improvement works at the junction will be brought forward to mid-next year instead of the fourth quarter.

Flash floods hit two areas in eastern Singapore for the second time this week, owing to the heavy rainfall on Wednesday afternoon.

The same junction between Chai Chee and New Upper Changi roads, as well as Marine Parade Market and Food Centre a 10-minute drive away, were under water, as they were on Monday afternoon.

Traffic and businesses in both locations were affected, with water levels at the Chai Chee junction swelling to a point where "traffic (was) not passable", said national water agency PUB on Twitter. PUB said flooding started at about 12.54pm, and subsided after 20 minutes.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said on Facebook that talks are ongoing with PUB and the Land Transport Authority "to deal with the flooding issue". He added: "It's quite bad when there is intense rain."

Hawker Zheng Ji, 54, agreed, saying that the junction has been flooded at least 10 times over the past three years.

PUB said in a statement that drainage improvement works at the junction will be brought forward to mid-next year instead of the fourth quarter.

Another pump will also be installed this week to aid the one transferring water to the drain across New Upper Changi Road.

"In addition, the depressed section of Chai Chee Road will be raised and work will start in November," PUB said.

Figures from PUB show that total rainfall of 54mm was recorded at Ping Yi Secondary School in Chai Chee from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, of which 48mm was recorded from 12.30pm to 1pm.

Marine Parade Market and Food Centre also reeked of a foul smell when its toilets overflowed and dirty water mixed with the floodwaters. Hawkers and stallholders, seen working in 10cm- deep rainwater, said business has been hit by the floods.

"Once the place is flooded, no customer wants to come," said hawker Tan Ah Guan, 62, who owns Apollo Fresh Cockle Fried Kway Teow.

Hawkers said toilet drainage has been a problem for the past few years, and the problem is exacerbated when it rains heavily.

Some patrons said water levels in the toilet bowls can near the brim, making the toilets almost impossible to flush. "We call the authorities a few times a week, and we've closed our stalls before for them to unclog the pipes, but it hasn't improved," said a hawker who asked to be known only as Mr Lee, 52.

In a statement, the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said that as of 7.30pm on Wednesday, total rainfall over Marine Parade Road was 66.2mm.

With more rainy days ahead, wet market stallholders are getting worried too. "When it rains in the afternoon, our business is not so affected. But if the place floods in the morning, it'll be bad for us," said pork seller Koh Sweet Huat, 58.

The MSS said on Monday that total rainfall this December and January could be 10 per cent to 20 per cent above average.

A spokesman for Marine Parade Town Council told The Straits Times it was aware of the situation. He said the market and food centre closed for a month late last year for repair and redecoration works, and a section of the sewer was repaired.

He said the town council has identified several external factors causing the flooding and is working with stakeholders, including PUB, the National Environment Agency, Marine Parade Merchants' Association and hawker representatives on the matter.

"Our town council has carried out CCTV inspection of all the sewer lines recently and will be carrying out repair works," said the spokesman.

audreyt@sph.com.sg

brynasim@sph.com.sg


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