Parliament: Drainage upgrading works in Geylang River to be completed by Q3 2018

SINGAPORE - Ongoing works to improve the drainage system in the Geylang River will be completed by the third quarter of 2018, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 6).

On Dec 21, the upstream section of the river overflowed during a period of intense rain. This resulted in a flash flood in the surrounding low-lying area in Paya Lebar.

"Drainage improvement works have been ongoing in Geylang River, and we expect completion of the drainage upgrading workers in the third quarter of 2018. The flood protection to the Paya Lebar area will be enhanced then," said Mr Masagos.

He was responding to Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) who had asked, in light of the recent flash flood in Paya Lebar, if the area was part of the 90 locations at which drainage upgrading works were ongoing.

Mr Masagos also gave the House an update on the flash flood that occurred at Upper Thomson on Christmas Eve, saying his ministry is taking steps to take the errant contractor which caused the flood to task.

Japanese firm Sato Kogyo is constructing the Upper Thomson MRT station - one of the stops on the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line - near Thomson Plaza. Earlier investigations found that a choked drain at the construction site had contributed to the flood.

The agency found that the Japanese firm had constructed an undersized temporary diversion drain along Jalan Keli opposite Thomson Plaza. The firm was also found to have altered the public drainage system near Lorong Mega, which is adjacent to the plaza.Both of these works were done without national water agency PUB's approval.

Under the Sewerage and Drainage Act, those found guilty may be fined up to $50,000 for unauthorised works affecting the public drainage system, and up to $20,000 for unauthorised alteration or interference to the public drainage system.

Responding to nominated MP Randolph Tan on whether the penalties for errant contractors are on par with the severity of the potential damage from flooding, Mr Masagos said the penalties and reputational damage, as well as being liable for civil penalties if they cause third party damage, have been sufficient and effective in the past.

But he added that PUB will continue to review the amounts from time to time.

In addition, Mr Masagos said PUB deals with the flood risk by adopting a "source-pathway-receptor" approach.

He said this addresses flood protection through various means, such as drains and canals ( the pathway), in areas generating stormwater runoff (the source, through the installations of rainwater detention tanks, for instance) and areas where floods may occur ( the receptor, by having higher platform levels, crest protection and flood barriers).