Singapore Government Press Release

Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts

36th Storey, PSA Building, 460 Alexandra Road, Singapore 119963.

Tel: 3757794/5







Ladies and Gentlemen


Good Evening



1 I am happy to be here this evening to be updated on the progress of the MRT construction work in this area. Officers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) are here to tell us more about the Clarke Quay and People’s Park stations, both of which are serving bustling commercial centres.


2 The LTA has a difficult task. Whilst Clarke Quay and Peoples’s Park are the best locations for MRT stations given their high ridership, these locations are also the toughest areas to create working space to build the stations. That is why the engineers have to create the working space on a staged basis in order to minimise disrupting the lives of residents as well as businesses.


3 Times are difficult, especially for the retail trade. But over the longer-term view, I would expect light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. In fact,

by the time the North-East Line trains start running, we can expect the economy to be well on the way up again.


4 The opening of the North-East MRT Line by the year 2002, which is barely four years away, will help bring shoppers from as far as Pasir Ris, Punggol, Boon Lay and even Woodlands, to the heart of Chinatown. This area will be bursting at its seams, especially during the festivals.


5 So if we can all stay the course, we will realise the benefits. This is because having an MRT station nearby is like buying into prime land. Once the stations are in operation, this area will be an even greater magnet, drawing in the crowds. Even tourists on brief stopovers will be able to hop onto a train at the Changi Airport and visit us in less than half an hour.



Update on construction work


6 I am told that diversion of utilities have already been completed. At the Clarke Quay site, work has started on the construction of diaphragm walls. By September, this will be over.


7 Let me take a couple of minutes to share a little about diaphragm walls, just to give you an idea of the massiveness of the construction of the North-East MRT Line. The LTA officers will tell you more later.


8 These diaphragm walls are underground walls, which go as deep as 30 metres. As Clarke Quay station lies on soft ground next to the Singapore River, these underground walls are necessary to form the holding structure of the station. This method of construction has also been used in the other MRT lines, which are already operational.


9 However, as one cycle of the diaphragm wall construction takes 40 hours to complete, work will have to continue through the nights. This is the reason why 24-hour work needs to take place as the engineers cannot stop the works once they begin it. So I hope you will be a bit more generous with your understanding for the LTA and their contractors when works have to continue through the nights. This will not be for long as the diaphragm walls should all be completed by the later part of this year.


10 Another important effort going on in our area is the link between Clarke Quay station and the Dhoby Ghaut station. The tunnels linking these two stations will be under the Singapore River. I understand that the Tunnel Boring Machine will tunnel 10 metres below the riverbed, which is quite an engineering feat.



Road realignment


11 Another very visible change in recent months is the traffic situation in this area. Many of you are by now used to the traffic realignment scheme on Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. The new scheme has reduced the combined capacity of the two roads from eight lanes to four, and from a two-way to one-way traffic. This arrangement is made possible by transferring part of the original traffic flow on New Bridge Road to South Bridge Road.


12 As a result, the traffic flow on all these roads is slower but at least the carriageways are open to traffic at all times. The alternative would have been to close the roads. This would have been unacceptable in a busy area such as ours.




Extra care by the engineers


13 Before I end, I would like to share with you an example of the extra care the LTA and their contractors took to address the concerns of residents and commercial tenants. The contractor was ready to start piling before the Chinese New Year and Hari Raya celebrations at the end of January. But knowing the importance of the festive sales to the shops, they delayed the start of the piling works till after the festivities.


14 This, I think, is a considerate gesture. They have shown flexibility to accommodate needs of residents and business despite their tight construction schedules. It is in this respect that I commend our grassroots leaders, the LTA and their contractors for having worked out the win-win solution that benefited everyone.


15 It is heart-warming to note that this evening’s presentation is jointly organised by LTA and our grassroots leaders. With such co-operation, I have no doubt that LTA will be able to strike a balance between building the stations on schedule and making life more bearable for the residents and commercial tenants.


16 To all residents who are present this evening, I urge you to be patient and tolerant towards the construction activities. Although it is not easy to bear with noise, dust and nightwork, we can perhaps take comfort in the fact that residents in the earlier MRT phases have survived it and today are enjoying the benefits of being near an MRT station.


17 And on this note, let me pass over the floor to the LTA officers who will screen a short video show before briefing you on the construction to-date.