Rochor Centre blocks leaving colourful memories behind

Yap Boh Kiat, 68, has been living in Rochor Centre since it first opened 39 years ago.
PHOTO: TNP Photos: Benjamin Seetor

Today marks the end of the road for the four iconic rainbow-coloured blocks at Rochor Centre.

The blocks, which have been around for 39 years, are to make way for the 21.5km-long North-South Expressway.

On Nov 15, 2011, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced the acquisition of the four blocks at Rochor Road.

When The New Paper visited Rochor Centre yesterday, retiree Lee May Eng, 71, was still in the midst of packing her belongings.

Madam Lee and her husband have lived in Block 4, which is red, since its construction.

She said in Mandarin: "There are just so many things to move and I recently suffered a hand injury, so it is difficult for me to pack my belongings.

"I also feel very reluctant to move out of my home."

When TNP visited their home, there were still several framed photographs on the walls, and appliances like television sets, cabinets and fans strewn across their living room.

Retiree Chng Seng Zeok, 67, who lived in Block 2, which is blue, was collecting the last of her belongings.

She was pushing a trolley containing all her gardening tools, such as bricks for her potted plants.

Madam Chng said she had moved out last month, along with most of her neighbours.

Drink stall owner Halilur Rahman, 60, a father of four who lives in Block 4, said: "This is the place where I saw my daughters get married, have children and buy their own homes."

He has arranged for movers to move his furniture today.

He added: "We, old people, have to do things slowly and cannot go too fast."

Fellow resident Halilur Rahman, 60, and his wife Halilur Nooruliynu, 50.Photo:TNP Photos: Benjamin Seetor

Student Chan Yuk Chun, 14, recalls the spacious void deck on the fourth storey.

He said: "My family would take me there and we would chase pigeons. We would always go to the area around OG to buy ice cream."

A HDB spokesman told TNP that almost all the 567 households have collected keys to their replacement flats.

And nine out of 10 households have chosen a replacement flat at Kallang Trivista at Upper Boon Keng Road.

The spokesman added: "Another 28 households have selected a flat elsewhere.

"The rest are not taking up a replacement flat with HDB.

"To date, most of the households have returned the keys to the Rochor units.

"For those who are unable to move out by the end of the year and requested an extension, we have considered their individual circumstances and will continue to work with them to vacate the unit as soon as possible.

"For security reasons, we have advised the remaining residents to move out soon."

This article was first published on Dec 31, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.