Traffic tailed back along Thomson Road yesterday afternoon as shoppers rushed to the nurseries in the area for some last-minute shopping for flowers for Chinese New Year.
A stretch of one lane along the three-lane Thomson Road was closed for vehicle parking during non-peak hours because of the high volume of patrons expected at the nurseries in the lead-up to this weekend's festivities.
An accident involving two cars at the junction of Olive Road at 2.30pm worsened the situation, and caused traffic to tail back for around 1km at 4pm. The jam eased only when the lane was reopened during the evening peak hour.
Drivers are also allowed to park along a stretch of Joan Road. They can do so between 9am and midnight today and tomorrow.
But the lane along the busy Thomson Road will be reopened to other cars during peak hours.
These temporary arrangements kicked in on Jan 29 and lasted through the previous weekend.
Nurseries in the Thomson area told The Straits Times that the closures are essential to cater to the high demand for parking space during Chinese New Year - typically the busiest time of the year for them. The same stretches were closed off in the same period last year as well.
Mr Steven Ng, 50, assistant director of The Nature Company, said: "There's the problem (of congestion) every year during Chinese New Year, and I remember that business was hit last year because there were a lot of summonses given, so people didn't want to come.
"So this year, the nurseries worked together and wrote to the authorities to ask for permission (for customers) to park on the roadside in this area, and we hired road marshals to direct traffic. I think it has helped because my business has gone up by at least two times."
The Straits Times understands that lane closures are not uncommon in such situations. For example, during festive periods or religious events when demand for parking is high.
Mr Peter Cheok, 36, sales and marketing director of Far East Flora, said more signs have been put up this year to direct drivers to roads where they can park.
Ms Lilian Koh, 63, executive director of Hawaii Landscape, said that in previous years, there were accidents and people got into arguments. "This year, we forked out money to hire road marshals to direct traffic. Traffic flow is better."
Accountant Melissa Ng, 29, said she was lucky that she found a parking space immediately yesterday. "It's a good move that a lane was set aside for parking, because a lot of people want to buy flowers for Chinese New Year," she said.
Madam Angela Tung, a 46-year-old housewife, said: "It's always very crowded during this time, but at least there is free parking, so we don't have to hurry in shopping for the flowers."