The above photo and a series of selected archived photos curated with courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore to share collective memories of Alexandra Canal on this personal blog.
I was like that young boy in the photo, when I was about 6-years-old in 1953 catching small “longkang fishes” in the canal at low tide. At that time, the canal was not yet developed with concrete lining and the water was muddy with earth and debris on both sides of the canal banks.
Children living in the kampung often played together in the outdoors. Around the kampung, one could easily find many ‘longkangs’ (a malay word for drains). The fishes were kept in empty bottles to bring home as pets.
As urchins of Bukit Ho Swee, my neighborhood buddies and I roamed the territories of the kampong as our “playground” during our childhood days, at a time when we did not have nurseries or kindergartens before we attend primary schools. The parents in the kampongs were too busy with their household chores and the kids were left to their own devices. We were having fun to catch small “longkang fishes” with colorful “guppies”, “rainbow” and the common “japanese” and other nickname fishes which were easily available in the drains and canals.
Flooding at Alexandra Road
Most major roads in Alexandra Road were flooded during the monsoon seasons in the 1960s. The drainage and waterway links connected to Alexandra canal was overflown after a few hours of continuous heavy rainfall.
Although Alexandra Road was developed during the colonial days to build residential flats by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), there were still scattered pockets of attap settlements in some areas.
Wooden shacks were constructed indiscriminately along Alexandra Canal, a tributory of the Singapore River.
Alexandra Canal in the early days
Alexandra Canal Widening Project
Member of Legislative Assembly for Delta, Mdm Chan Choy Siong opens the “Alexandra Canal Widening Project” on 19 September, 1963.
PUB’s Drainage Improvement Programme
The 250m stretch of Alexandra Canal between Zion Road and Kim Seng Road will also be transformed into a scenic waterway with recreational spaces.
As part of PUB’s drainage improvement programme, a stretch of the Alexandra Canal between Zion Road and Kim Seng Road will undergo reconstruction. The 250m stretch will be widened and deepened from the original 27m-by-3m trapezoidal drain into a 28m-by-5.7m U-shaped drain.
The improved drainage capacity at this stretch of the Alexandra Canal will help alleviate flooding at the nearby low-lying areas such as the junction of Alexandra Road and Lower Delta Road, and the area between Jervois Road and Prince Charles Crescent.
To accommodate the expansion of the Alexandra Canal, the Zion Road Bridge and the Kim Seng Road Bridge overcrossing the waterway will also be reconstructed. Temporary bridges will be constructed to maintain traffic flow during the project period.
In addition, PUB will construct three pedestrian underpasses, one across Zion Road and two across Kim Seng Road, to provide safe and easy access for pedestrians to cross over to the connecting Singapore River promenade.
As part of the project, Alexandra Canal will be transformed into a scenic recreational space incorporating PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) design elements. The transformation of the waterway will bring a softer, more natural landscape to the busy urban setting. A rain garden will be incorporated along the rejuvenated canal to help treat rainwater runoff from the promenade so cleaner water flows into the canal. In addition, four cantilever viewing decks will be constructed together with landscaping along the embankment, allowing visitors to enjoy views of the waterway.
During the planning stage of the project, PUB sought input from the grassroots groups, to ensure that the project addresses the community needs and enhances the living environment of the area.
Since March 2011, residents and students in the area have already been enjoying ABC Waters features along the stretch of the Canal near Tanglin Road. Opened by former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the features such as lookout decks and community plaza have become hotspots for recreational and educational activities. (Source: PUB)