A walk along Stamford Canal

A walk along Stamford Canal

Full Name: Stamford Canal
Description Name: Canalized Stream
Description Text: a stream that has been substantially ditched, diked, or straightened

We took a walk past Stamford Canal the other day. It was completely covered of course, but peering down the large storm drain cover, I could see it was at least a 3 metre drop down.

This is a topographic image from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, in a Oral Reply by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to Parliamentary Question on flash floods in Orchard Road (in December 2011). He describes Stamford canal as such: “Stamford Canal drains a catchment area of 631 hectares… It starts upstream at the Botanic Gardens and Dempsey Hill. It extends downstream to Bras Basah and City Hall areas and ultimately drains into the Marina Reservoir.”

In trying to defend the flash floods on Orchard Road, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan uttered this:

“Members (of the parliament) will notice that, in fact, the Stamford Canal is already very deep. If we go any deeper, we will create a Stamford basin, which is not the objective…”

But when something is completely underground in large parts, what do we care about its shape? It could be a Stamford basin for all we know. Canal, River, Basin, Pond, these can just be abstract terms for abstract shapes of water bodies.

Recently, I have also noticed that they are raising the roads outside my area (Little India/Farrer Park/Jalan Besar). This has dragged over many months and caused endless congestion on Jalan Besar and most of Little India (which is always heavily used by cars, pedestrians, and armies of trishaw drivers from Albert Square.

The construction work is slow, prolonged, and seems almost half-hearted in my opinion, with only single bricks laid each week. It has also forced human traffic in this area off the pavements and on to the vehicular roads because nobody wants to climb up a half-metre step to be on a pointless pavement for a few metres. And Little India has always been a place where unruly human traffic often takes over the road without a care for oncoming traffic.

Reading the responses by MEWR, it appears that they place greater importance in making sure that the vehicular roads remain passable at all times. The result is a somewhat disagreeable situation in which all the shophouses appear to be “sinking” into the ground, and where pavements are completely incondusive to walking. The old shophouses, which are the very core of this area, are more prone to becoming the “flooded basement” in Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza that were unfortunate enough to be “lower” than what they wanted to protect (the vehicular roads) by raising. Surely in all this, I find that there is a lack of understanding of what is truly important in the country, and what needs to be protected or preserved.

Also, I spotted this rampant case of stupidity at the end of Jalan Besar Road:

Just in case you couldn’t recognize what the traffic crossing looks like now, they decided to make a poster to tell you what it looked like.

It doesn’t actually look like that at the end of the road, although I suppose they just meant to tell you that it looks like an utter mess and perhaps they wanted to reassure (or taunt) people that as unlikely as it seemed, there would still be a traffic crossing at the end of the construction chaos. Because, you know, they are trying very hard to make them very hard to find around this area.