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Closure of major expressway due to flooding not acceptable: Vivian Balakrishnan

Photo taken at a bridge along AYE at about at about 9.30am on Thursday, Sept 5, 2013. It is "not acceptable" for a major expressway to shut down due to flooding, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday ev
Photo taken at a bridge along AYE at about at about 9.30am on Thursday, Sept 5, 2013. It is "not acceptable" for a major expressway to shut down due to flooding, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday evening.  -- FACEBOOK PHOTO: EUNICE CHAN

It is "not acceptable" for a major expressway to shut down due to flooding, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday evening. Dr Balakrishnan was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a research function at the National University of Singapore.

"We're going to need to do some work there," he said. "We will need some time, but I am confident that we can make an improvement to the situation...I told (national water agency) PUB we've got to do our best to make sure this doesn't recur in the future."

Dr Balakrishnan said that culverts to the south of the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), which was the worst hit area on Thursday, have to be expanded in the "immediate term" to improve drainage. Work on expanding the Sungei Pandan Kechil canal that overflowed would begin by 2015 or 2016 if plans go ahead.Areas affected by heavy rain on Sept 5

In the longer term, he said, there is the option of building a barrage along the canal, which opens to the sea, to control water and tidal levels in anticipation of flooding.

He added that the culvert beneath Clementi Road which leads to the Sungei Ulu Pandan canal, which also overflowed, will have to be expanded as well.

"These are problems that need to be resolved. They can be resolved," he said.

The Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) was one of the areas worst hit by Thursday morning's flash floods, which were caused by heavy rain falling over central and western Singapore. All four lanes of the AYE towards East Coast Parkway (ECP) were closed as flood waters reached a depth of 0.5m. The flood waters subsided within 40 minutes.