Transformed Rochor Canal a hit with residents

Waterway now a gathering spot - a far cry from its smelly, dirty past

Walking down the new granite paths lining Rochor Canal as rays of sunshine reflected off the waterbody, it was hard to picture what used to be a smelly drain avoided by residents.

Instead of an ignored canal filled with rubbish, the revitalised waterway is lined with glass-sheltered pergolas for shade.

Rain gardens which not only beautify the area but also act as a filter for rainwater run-off enhance the facade.

"I now make it a point to stroll along the beautiful canal every day," said retiree Lim Ah Wah, 79, who lives in Rochor estate.

The revitalised Rochor Canal, which will be officially opened tomorrow, is the first official waterway improvement project to be done in the downtown area.

A key enhancement is an urban promenade, which runs from Jalan Besar to Crawford Street - a 1.1km stretch - and which will also link residents to the surrounding enclaves of Bugis, Kampong Glam and Bencoolen.

A community plaza which can hold up to 330 people and can be used for events has also been added, as well as features such as lookout decks and pedestrian bridges.

The section of the canal has also been widened and deepened to improve its drainage capacity.

At a media preview of the canal, Mr Tan Nguan Sen, national water agency PUB's chief sustainability officer, said the project has transformed the landscape to bring more bustle and excitement to the area. It makes surrounding landmarks more accessible, and allows residents and visitors to walk, jog or cycle from Jalan Besar to Crawford Street.

"But while enjoying all these benefits, we hope the public will also play its part to keep the river clean and free of litter," he said.

Mr Tan explained that this is especially important as the Rochor Canal is one of five waterways that flow into the Marina Reservoir and said the PUB will work to keep the waterway clean.

The project took more than three years to complete and cost $48 million. It was done under PUB's Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) programme.

Residents living in the area said they were happy with the improvements. Mr John Yeo, 52, who works in advertising, said he remembered the canal being smelly and full of litter when he first moved in 30 years ago, but now enjoys strolling along it and interacting with his neighbours.

"More residents now gather along its banks to enjoy the clean waters and the cool breeze," he said.

samboh@sph.com.sg