'Dark and dingy' underpass repainted and adopted by Marsiling residents

Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Halimah Yacob, fresh from adding a painted smiley face to the underpass entrance at an event yesterday marking the RC's adoption of the public walkway. The RC will engage cyclists to promote habits such as dismounting before
Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Halimah Yacob, fresh from adding a painted smiley face to the underpass entrance at an event yesterday marking the RC's adoption of the public walkway. The RC will engage cyclists to promote habits such as dismounting before using the underpass.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Like any proud parent, Mr Mohd Noh Tahir, 67, speaks fondly of his new adoptive charge.

Yes, it may be an underpass - and 44 years old, at that. But it has been cleaned up and repainted, the residents' committee (RC) chairman said, and residents are proud.

In a Singapore first, residents of a Marsiling constituency - specifically, the Zone 1 RC - adopted a 50m underpass in their estate yesterday.

This means that residents will handle its upkeep, with help from government agencies such as the Land Transport Authority and National Environment Agency.

The underpass links the Masjid An-Nur mosque, Marsiling Community Club and Woodlands Secondary School to Housing Board blocks in Admiralty Road.

Yesterday, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob officiated the adoption, in an event attended by some 320 residents.

Madam Halimah (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) said that the underpass used to be "dark and dingy" and attracted complaints from residents.

"Before, it was just neglected. It was no man's land," she said. "When there is somebody taking care of it, people feel that they don't want to mess up a place. There is a sense of ownership."

She said she is optimistic that the adoption will be sustainable. When asked about adopting other facilities, she said that it may take time.

The RC said that it will regularly engage users and help to inculcate safe cycling habits, which means reminding cyclists to dismount from bicycles and push them along the underpass.

Mr Mohd Noh said that about 10 of his RC's 30 members live in nearby blocks. "These are the people whom I've advised to patrol it regularly," he said.

Yesterday, Madam Halimah also spoke about the shops and hawker stalls affected by developments at the Old Woodlands Town Centre, such as the recently announced extension of the Woodlands Checkpoint.

She said most affected hawkers will be relocated to an integrated development in Woodlands Street 13 by August. Those who want to give up their shops will be compensated.

Two lots of private land - one housing Woodlands Point and the other a disused cinema - were acquired by the state for the extension.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline ''Dark and dingy' underpass repainted and adopted by Marsiling residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe