The Punggol Waterway opened to great fanfare in October 2011 a few months after GE2011. Our PM Mr Lee and the once-popular former Returning Officer, Mr Yam Ah Mee was at the grand opening. The show culminated in an impressive fireworks display. Calling the waterway the “Venice of Punggol” really sounds hyperbolic, but the ecstatic crowd didn’t seem to mind.
Praises were also sung by the Chinese media, as you can see in the above video. Being a resident of Punggol, I felt very excited about my own once-ulu estate finally becoming a happening place. Not surprisingly, the crowds moved in like ants to honey immediately after the PM’s grand opening. People from all walks of life, all corners of Singapore and a sizable pool of foreign investors descended on Punggol to check the place out.
Not surprisingly again, many people were impressed. They loved what they saw. They loved what was presented to them by enthusiastic developers. The air was filled with excitement. In fact, even I was impressed. Punggol Waterway was indeed lovely when it first opened, but even back then, the cynic in him said that as housing projects started to huddle round the waterway, things are going to be very different when these projects are completed. Like all lovely things, living or non-living, the waterway needs maintenance. You can’t just build it and leave it alone, especially when so much of the waterway is not really natural and self-sustaining.
Years have passed. Thousands of families have placed their deposits for flats that cost 3 times more than what I paid for in 2002. I mentioned in a video that Punggol has become the biggest construction site in Singapore. If the cranes here could fly, it would be a beautiful bird park. Unfortunately, these are construction cranes and I really dare not imagine what will become of the waterway when all the construction is completed and hordes of residents move in. As it is, flats are mushrooming from numerous stretches of the waterway, obliterating lush fields and even blocking the view of the sky.
Thanks to Ang Mo and Sheng Siong Supermarkets, food and daily necessities are still readily available at reasonable prices. Cooked food, however, is poor and expensive at the food centres here. Being a terminal station on NEL doesn’t offer you a seat. As it is, you’d need to take the MRT “back” to Sengkang to get a seat all the way to Harbourfront if you get out after 7.30am.
Barely 2 years after the grand opening, this is what I observe when I brought my sister and nephew from America for a walk and jog over the weekend.
Our Venice Today
Huge blocks of tiles are falling off.
Some are even broken. I certainly hope they didn’t fall on anyone.
And it’s just not at one place.
This used to be a cascade. I’m not sure why it has not been turned on, but just look at the moss growing on it.
My nephew Esper told me that in America, people would draw graffiti on these dirty walls by “cleaning” out the moss in the areas they want to highlight. Would that be considered vandalism in Singapore? Let’s not give the system too much food for thought or it may just snap or even crumble.
© Chan Joon Yee