Sex, cigarettes when night falls at Rail Corridor

ON WEEKENDS, nature lovers and joggers are often seen along the stretch of the Rail Corridor near Sungei Kadut Avenue.

But when night falls, this 300m stretch is frequented by other types of lovers - those in search of fast love and illegal nicotine kicks.

A two-day investigation by The New Paper (TNP) revealed that the area around the nature trail is being used by an outdoor prostitution ring and contraband cigarette peddlers.

We were first told about the activities by a jogger who declined to be named.

On two occasions in the past month, the 48-year-old man, who regularly runs along the Rail Corridor, from Stagmont Ring to Sungei Kadut Avenue, was startled by what he saw at night.

He said: "It's very dark. As I got closer, I heard voices. I was surprised when I could make out the shapes of six to eight women sitting on plastic chairs surrounded by men."

The area is not popular with joggers because of the mud pools dotting the trail. But that has not stopped dozens of foreign workers from heading to the Rail Corridor at night.

TNP staked out the area on Wednesday and Thursday. Between 9pm and 10.30pm, we witnessed a steady stream of men entering state-owned land.

One of them, who gave his name only as Salim, initially told TNP that he used the trail as a shortcut to Yew Tee MRT Station.

When pressed further, the Bangladeshi in his late 20s said with a smile: "Inside, there are also Ah Muis (Hokkien for girls), so I take a look while on my way. But I never try them - there are many mosquitoes."

Some workers claimed that a makeshift brothel has been in business in the area for the last five months, changing locations frequently within the Rail Corridor.

From our observation point about 50m across a muddy canal, we could see men looking at four women seated on plastic chairs.

Three men appeared to be pimps, acting as liaisons between the potential clients dressed in shorts, T-shirts and sarongs, and the women in tight tops, short skirts and hot pants.

Occasionally, one of the "pimps" would leave and patrol the area on a bicycle.

Some of the clients were seen heading with the women to narrow paths in the 2m-tall lalang vegetation. The light from torchlights or mobile phones was used to guide the clients and the women through the thick growth.

After about half an hour, the women would emerge with the clients and return to the chairs they had occupied earlier. The clients would then leave.

On the two days we were there, the women and the pimps left the area at about midnight.

We inspected the same area during the day.

Patches of lalang - each about the size of a small Housing Board flat's bedroom - had been cleared to make way for "rooms". The cleared areas were strewn with condom wrappers, candle boxes, soiled tissue paper and discarded packets of food.

Around the cleared areas, there were wooden poles anchored to the ground. It is believed that plastic or canvas sheets are tied to the poles to create the "rooms".

But the outdoor brothel was not the only vice going on in the area.

TNP also witnessed the illicit sale of contraband cigarettes on both nights.

Said the jogger who tipped off TNP: "This isn't Geylang, so it's amazing that this outdoor brothel is happening less than 200m from the closest HDB block in Choa Chu Kang."

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