Homage to history at Geylang River

The Geylang River is the latest of 23 projects to have been completed under the PUB's ABC Waters programme. The $37.8 million makeover included widening and deepening the stretch of river from Dunman Road to Guillemard Road. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG P
The Geylang River is the latest of 23 projects to have been completed under the PUB's ABC Waters programme. The $37.8 million makeover included widening and deepening the stretch of river from Dunman Road to Guillemard Road. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Makeover features design elements that reflect area's heritage as a Malay settlement

In a homage to its past as a Malay settlement in Geylang Serai, the Geylang River has been given a makeover to include four shelters which resemble kelongs, and a gazebo in the shape of a kampung hut.

It is the latest of 23 projects to have been completed under the PUB's Active, Beautiful and Clean (ABC) Waters programme, which aims to spruce up water bodies here. But the Geylang River is the first to have designs included to reflect its heritage.

In the 1840s, the British moved villages of Orang Laut (sea people) and Malays living at the mouth of the Singapore River inland, resettling them in clusters of kampung villages on the banks of the Geylang River.

PUB director of catchment and waterways Tan Nguan Sen said: "While we enhance the waterway, we also preserved a part of our heritage by integrating nostalgic elements of Geylang."

The $37.8 million project which began in 2010 included widening and deepening the 850m stretch of river from Dunman Road to Guillemard Road.

Together with an ongoing project to expand an upstream section of the river by the year's end, the drainage capacity of Geylang's catchment area will improve by 30 per cent, helping to provide better protection against floods.

Next on the ABC Waters programme agenda is to turn Rochor Canal into Rochor River by the end of the year. A 1.1km stretch of the concrete canal will be made into a river complete with decks and seating areas.

At least 20 more projects will be rolled out over the next five years as part of the ABC Waters programme, which was launched in April 2006.

Similar to previous enhancements made elsewhere - such as the canal at St George's Lane - a rain garden has been created close to the Geylang River to help clean runoff from rain before it is discharged into the waterway.

The 100 sq m garden next to the playground in Lorong 40 Geylang has been filled with porous soil and selected plants which can filter sediment and impurities from rainwater.

The existing Geylang park connector has also been extended to connect Dakota MRT station and other nearby facilities.

The additions along the 850m stretch of the river will be officially opened by MP for Marine Parade GRC Fatimah Lateef this evening.

Long-time Geylang resident Tan Tong Wah, who has lived there since 1966, said that the extended park connector makes it a lot more convenient for him to get around the neighbourhood on foot.

"I sometimes take my grandchildren out to enjoy the cool breeze and the surroundings," added the 61-year-old. "The shelters along the river remind me of the old Malay village in Geylang."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg