Punggol crash leads to TPE gridlock in morning rush

Concierge officer Nurhidayu Atan's morning journey to her workplace in Changi is usually a half-hour taxi ride from her Punggol home, including dropping her daughter at a childcare centre at Changi Business Park.

But yesterday, it took her nearly double the time just to get out of her neighbourhood.

The 32-year-old boarded a cab at Punggol Place at 7.45am, but was still stuck in the area at 8.40am - due to a massive traffic jam along the Tampines Expressway (TPE) caused by an accident involving three cars and two motorcycles.

She told The Straits Times that her taxi driver tried to take a different route instead of the TPE, "but everywhere was at a bottleneck, so we were moving very slowly".

Her cab fare cost her $32, more than the usual $17 to $20. And she reached work 45 minutes later than usual.

The accident, which happened on the TPE towards Changi Airport after the Lorong Halus exit, took place at about 6.40am.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force sent an ambulance to the scene. Two male motorcyclists, aged 42 and 60, were taken to hospital. The Straits Times understands that their injuries are not serious.

Police are investigating the crash.

Ms Nurhidayu was among scores of commuters in the Punggol and Sengkang areas who were caught in the jam. Many took to social media to post photos of the traffic situation and complain of their ordeal.

Operations executive Zac Hassan, 37, was taking the bus to work when it was caught in the jam at the exit of Punggol Road towards Seletar Expressway.

He usually takes 20 minutes to get to his workplace in the east; it took him an hour yesterday.

He told The Straits Times that traffic jams are not uncommon around Punggol, particularly during the morning peak period.

And this is probably due to more new Housing Board flats in Punggol in recent years, he said.

Punggol's HDB residential population rose from 65,100 in 2011 to 118,100 last year, while the number of HDB flats doubled from 20,518 to 41,747, according to HDB data.

New slip roads have been built and more bus lanes have been added to ease peak-hour traffic congestions near Punggol and Sengkang.

However, sales director Derek Low, 46, who yesterday took an hour to take his daughter to school in Bedok, instead of the usual 25 minutes, said that the traffic infrastructure in Punggol remains inadequate.

"This accident raises questions over the response time from Traffic Police, the standard procedures to remedy a jam on a major expressway and inadequate infrastructure," he told The Straits Times.

samboh@sph.com.sg andĀ amock@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on Mar 08, 2017.
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