SINGAPORE - A new overhead bridge will link the popular Geylang Serai market to a new civic centre and mall, Wisma Geylang Serai, which would in turn be linked to the Paya Lebar MRT station hub.
The connection will improve "the flow of people from one end of the Paya Lebar area to Geylang Serai and back... which will liven up the area", Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, MP for the area, said yesterday.
The link could be in the form of covered walkways or even an underpass. While details have not been firmed up, the physical links will certainly be there, he said.
Mr Tan, who is Manpower Minister and the anchor minister for Marine Parade GRC, disclosed the plans to improve pedestrian traffic after a visit to the market yesterday.
His comments came one week after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave the assurance that the upgrading of the Geylang Serai area will be done while retaining its special Malay character. By 2017, the five-storey, 10,000 sq m Wisma Geylang Serai will be built on the site of the now-defunct heritage attraction Malay Village.
Besides shops and cafes, the new mall will house a community club, the South East Community Development Council (CDC) office, a Malay heritage gallery, and arts and culture groups.
The development project is headed by South East District mayor and Minister of State for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman.
A construction tender is expected later this year.
When The Straits Times visited the site yesterday, it found no sheltered path between Paya Lebar MRT station and the popular market, which is more than 600m away.
Those walking from the MRT station have to cross the busy five-lane traffic junction between Sims Avenue and Eunos Road 8, walk along an unshaded area along Sims Avenue, before turning into Geylang Serai - a walk of about 10 minutes.
Stallholders at the market are looking forward to the improvements.
"It will improve business," said Mr Oli Abdul Latiff, chairman of the Pasar Geylang Serai Merchants' Association. "People can come directly to the market to eat after shopping."
Yesterday, the association hosted a nasi briyani lunch for 5,000 people to celebrate the market's 50th anniversary. Organiser Rahmat Sawie said shops and stalls at the market chipped in by sponsoring food, drinks and labour.
One sponsor was Hanifaa Frozen Food managing director M.H. Iqbal, 46, who provided 650kg of mutton. His father was a roadside butcher before moving into the market in 1964. The business has since expanded but the butcher stall is still there.
He declined to reveal the cost of the mutton, saying: "It doesn't matter. It is part of giving back to the community."
BOOST FOR BUSINESS
It will improve business. People can come directly to the market to eat after shopping. - Mr Oli Abdul Latiff, chairman of the Pasar Geylang Serai Merchants' Association
This article was published on May 5 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.