Measures in place for Singapore's upcoming rainy season

Workers carrying out drainage works in New Upper Changi Road. The PUB said drainage improvement to the flood-prone section, which also includes part of Chai Chee Road, will be speeded up. -- PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Workers carrying out drainage works in New Upper Changi Road. The PUB said drainage improvement to the flood-prone section, which also includes part of Chai Chee Road, will be speeded up. -- PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

With more rain than usual expected in the next few months, those hit by floods this year have already moved to prevent history from repeating itself.

At Rochester Mall in Buona Vista, where a restaurant and cafe were hit by floodwaters in February, management intervened within weeks of the incident. It built a cement platform about 35cm high on the staircase leading down to both establishments to prevent water streaming down.

No further flooding has since occurred, said assistant marketing manager Hana Arshad of Pasta Fresca da Salvatore restaurant, which was ankle-deep in water then.

It was also a case of once bitten, twice shy at Singapore Polytechnic, where several classes were disrupted by flooding during the same storm.

Fifteen sandbag stations installed in August now dot the premises as another precaution against floodwaters. The school also installed early warning sensors at critical locations around campus in September this year, after a storm that month flooded nearby roads.

The National University of Singapore is also improving its existing drainage "to handle the anticipated increase in rainfall" during the coming monsoon, said a spokesman. The same September storm innundated several of its facilities under knee-high water.

But others are choosing to take their chances against the bad weather.

At the flood-prone junction between Chai Chee and New Upper Changi roads, tenants The Straits Times spoke to said that while business has been affected, they have not adopted precautionary measures.

Just last week, flash floods occurred twice in the area, leaving cars stranded as the roads were impassable to traffic.

"Over the last two years, it will flood every time it rains heavily and the roof will leak," said sundry shop owner T.T. Kwan, 60. "What can I do except to keep my items when it rains?"

However, tenants in affected areas can expect more help from the authorities in dealing with the floods. The PUB said drainage improvement works at the affected Chai Chee Road stretch will now begin in mid-2014 instead of the fourth quarter.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, the area's MP, said two pumps installed by national water agency PUB were "interim measures" till the drainage works are completed.

One of the pumps wasinstalled last Thursday to aid the one transferring water to the drain across New Upper Changi Road.

Yesterday, they "kicked in" during the rain and water subsided quickly, said the minister in a Facebook post.

PUB will also raise a depressed section of Chai Chee Road.

Yesterday, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also said on his Facebook page that the Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre in his ward, which has been flooded recently, will have kerbs built to temporarily keep out rain water.

It will also be closed for a few weeks early next year to "redesign and overhaul the drainage system".

To improve protection against floods, the PUB completed 90 drainage projects last year and this year, and has put in progress more than 200 others. These include an underground detention tank near Tyersall Road that it will begin constructing by year end to help protect the Orchard Road area from floods.

It will soon put out a tender for the construction of the Stamford Diversion Canal, which is meant to divert stormwater from the upstream end of the Stamford Canal to the Singapore River. The diversion canal is expected to be ready by 2017.

The PUB is also piloting a flood-forecast system in the Marina Catchment area, to predict and provide early warning.

The Meteorological Service Singapore has predicted that there could be up to 20 per cent more rain than usual next month and in January.

davidee@sph.com.sg

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