Geylang Serai set to be more accessible

SINGAPORE - It will be easier to get into and around Geylang Serai, with plans to link up the area with a bridge and possibly covered or underground walkways.

Besides a link bridge that will connect Geylang Serai Market with the new Wisma Geylang Serai civic centre, there are plans to connect the neighbourhood with Paya Lebar MRT station.

The improved connectivity will allow more people to go to Geylang Serai, which, in turn, will liven up the area and boost businesses, said Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday at a community lunch to celebrate Geylang Serai Market's 50th anniversary.

There are no sheltered paths between the Paya Lebar MRT station and the market, which is a 10-minute walk away.

The plans to better link up the Geylang Serai area are part of redevelopment plans to spruce up the neighbourhood. The new five-storey Wisma Geylang Serai, which will replace the former Malay Village, will have a community club and the Malay Heritage Gallery.

To be completed in 2017, it will host new facilities and activities to bring the community together.

"What we want to do is... facilitate the flow of people from one end of the Paya Lebar area to Geylang Serai," said Mr Tan.

The Marine Parade GRC MP added: "It's a bit quiet on the weekdays but, I think, as this place becomes a hub for people to work, live and play... you will see it coming alive quite considerably."

Even as the area, which is more than 100 years old, gets a facelift, Mr Tan said that it is also important to "keep the character and the spirit of the place" by working with the community and coming up with activities that would bring people together.

At Geylang Serai Market's golden-anniversary celebrations last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also pledged that the neighbourhood's unique Malay character will be retained.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said a better walking infrastructure, such as having sheltered walkways and overhead bridges, will draw bigger crowds to the Geylang Serai area.

"When it is too hot or rainy, people might avoid walking there... but it also depends, to a large extent, on the development plans and the kind of activities there are."

Stallholders in the Geylang Serai area are hoping that better connectivity will mean higher payoffs.

Mr Rahmat Sawie, 60, secretary of the Pasar Geylang Serai Merchants' Association, told My Paper: "We hope the easy access will add vibrancy to the market. Business is good now. But, if the plans materialise, it will be even better."

This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.