Geylang Lorong 3 residents uncertain about future

SINGAPORE - Surrounded by HDB flats, next to the Kallang Paya-Lebar Expressway is a cluster of old terraced houses, the size of two football fields.

Built in 1960, the mix of residential homes and foreign worker quarters at Geylang Lorong 3 only has five years left on its lease.

Many residents, who have been living in this 'kampong' for decades, are uncertain about their future.

"This land used to belong to Lee Kong Chian, it was used to build attap houses. Residents paid rent to live here, then a fire burned down all the houses. The government stepped in to help, they built houses here and then sold them to residents who lived in the attap houses before the fire," said Mr Yeo Chai, 78, a long-time resident at Geylang Lorong 3.

Mr Sam Guam, 60, grew up in this neighbourhood.

He said: "I moved in when I was 4 or 5 years old. These houses were built for resettlement, they don't build houses like this anymore. You can't get this kind of environment anymore, like HDB, you go back you just see all walls, here you come out you can see water, grass, trees, everywhere. We are left with another five years only, nobody want to invest anymore."

In recent years, some of the terraced houses have been converted into foreign worker quarters.

"I eat with them, they always like to eat in a group. Sometimes I join them, I buy beer and drink with them. Some are very nice people, they have been working here for almost 15 years, 18 years," said Mr Guam.

For residents like Mr Guam and Mr Yeo, who have lived here for most of their lives, this 'kampong' holds many precious memories.

They are worried about taking the next step.

"It depends, I may move in with my children or I'll just accept whatever government arrangement there is," said Mr Yeo.

Said Mr Guam: "I'll miss the friends, but this place probably the government is going to take back. I don't think they are going to preserve this place, you know how many blocks of flats they can build here."