More fun ahead at Hougang waterways

PM Lee colouring illustrations meant to inspire people to keep the waters clean during the ground-breaking ceremony for three waterway projects in Hougang yesterday.
PM Lee colouring illustrations meant to inspire people to keep the waters clean during the ground-breaking ceremony for three waterway projects in Hougang yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Three projects worth $19m launched to transform 2.2km into community space

Residents of Hougang town can look forward to three more community spaces along waterways in the neighbourhood by 2018.

These are among 20 projects slated for completion in the next five years under the ABC (Active, Beautiful, Clean) Waters programme.

Work on the three Hougang projects at Hougang Avenue 10, Sungei Pinang and Serangoon Reservoir, over a total distance of 2.2km, starts next month.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Hougang projects yesterday morning.

"I know many residents are looking forward to this, and I hope you enjoy it when it is done. I look forward to coming back and visiting it myself," Mr Lee said in a speech.

He urged residents to keep the waters clean, adding that otters may visit if the waters are well looked after.

Some upcoming features include a new deck over the canal at Hougang Avenue 10, which can be used for community events. A pedestrian bridge across Sungei Pinang will better connect the housing areas to amenities such as Punggol Park.

There will be more greenery at the three locations to liven up the concrete structures, and a fishing spot along the edge of Serangoon Reservoir will also be built.

The three projects will cost about $19 million.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh, an Ang Mo Kio GRC MP who oversees the Sengkang South division, an area which will benefit from the new projects, said the bridge will help pedestrians, including the elderly and those in wheelchairs, to go to Punggol Park and enjoy the facilities there.

Yesterday's event, which was also attended by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, marked the 10th year of the ABC Waters programme under national water agency PUB.

This scheme aims to beautify Singapore's blue spaces and transform concrete canals and drains into areas that can also be used for community events and recreation.

Since the scheme started in 2006, 32 projects costing about $150 million have been completed.

This includes a 3km stretch of the Kallang River located within Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. A concrete canal has been turned into a meandering river, and visitors can now get up close to the river bank.

This project has been a hit not just with humans, but also with birds such as the purple heron and collared kingfisher, which have been seen along the naturalised river. Otters have also been spotted there.

Said Mr Tan Nguan Sen, PUB's chief sustainability officer: "Over time, conventional water infrastructure will be replaced with treasured blue spaces, creating an even more liveable and sustainable City of Gardens and Water."

Mr Durairaj Baktha, 53, a Hougang resident of three years, appreciates the Government's efforts to beautify the neighbourhood.

"I really like the greenery, it gives me peace of mind. My three sons also cycle often, and I think they will look forward to more greenery along the way to Punggol Park," said the project manager.

Punggol Secondary School student Aloysius Goh, 14, who has been living in the area since he was born, said: "With more greenery, people might be less grumpy after a long day of work or school."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'More fun ahead at Hougang waterways'. Print Edition | Subscribe