Looking down from the elevations of both my apartment and the roof of the apartment building I have been able to witness the progress of a road building (or rebuilding) project on a multi-lane highway, the Ophir Road, that passes one side of our building.

Charting the progress at ground level has been a twice daily negotiation of ever changing pedestrian routes and traffic light sequences as lanes have been redirected, bus stops moved, footpaths closed and reopened in different places, and construction site trucks backed into and driven out of openings in big fences.

I will say one thing for construction Singapore style: the big fences have openings cut in them so you can see what is going on.  I suspect the openings are not so much about accommodating sightseers as ensuring the fences don't turn into paragliders in high winds.  Many of the fences are highly decorated (and some of the artwork has featured in earlier posts), many are simply cheap woven polyester tarpaulin material attached to chainmesh fence panels.  Most are affixed with signs portraying a carefully bowed (cartoon style) construction worker in a most apologetic posture, expressing regret for any inconvenience caused to road users and pedestrians during the period of disruption.

Refreshing attitude.  Very Singaporean.

After 8 weeks of observation, I am still not clear what the objective of the project is.  It might involve a new 'flyover' of the Nicholl Highway.  The process of digging holes, filling them in, and then digging them again, has all the stuff that old jokes about make-work projects seem to have been based on.  The ground our building and this road are sitting on was probably reclaimed from the sea, or at least from tidal mudflats, at some stage in the last 200 years, and if the evidence of the gloop being drilled out of some of the holes is anything to go by, is possibly still subject to a very high water table.  I guess they have been drilling-in some sort of piling to support the whole new 'whatever it is they are building'.  It, fortunately, has not involved any pile driving, and for that I am grateful.  Even the apologetic signs couldn't have compensated for 12 hours a day or pile driving right next door.

They work on Sundays.

Goodness.  Even maids and nannies get Sundays off; but not construction workers it seems.

It is quite common to see gangs of construction workers being driven to sites all over the island sitting (on up-turned buckets or rudimentary benches) in the open back of a truck with a sort of sun-shade roof over it.  Singapore can sometimes appear to be a strange mix of uber-modernity and things we might expect to see in less well developed countries.

Given the intensity of advertising campaigns designed to get Singaporeans to walk, cycle or take public transport I am surprised at the levels of investment being made in creating superhighways for cars - all over the city.  With so many people living in such a concentrated way and nothing in the way of 'hinterland' in this tiny island nation, it seems the perfect place to lead the world in moving away from individual dependence on cars and having instead integrated urban transport.  The positive effects on air quality and noise pollution, and saving the space allocated to allowing cars to move around (turning it all into green space and green corridors) would be .... ( I have no superlative. I just can't imagine how idyllic even cities could be if that happened. Perhaps 'radical' is the word I am looking for.)

I read recently a quote attributed to Einstein: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.

Bigger roads are simply not the answer to an increasing human demand to be transported.


  1. Hari OM
    Fair point. But I doubt that genie is well de-bottled. At the very least on such an island city, one would hope that electrification of transport was at least advancing apace... there is little to be gleaned from the Min of Transport SG site (except this week a notice of registration for EV chargers being instigated and vehicle reduction is being exercised). YAM xx

  2. As a lifelong user of the bicycle as my primary means of urban transport, I too fantasise about living in a city free of cars. The closest I've seen in a rich country is Freiburg in Germany. What I remember from my brief visit to Singapore is a conversation with a taxi driver. I'd commented on how smoothly the traffic flowed in the city despite the dense population and he said the government placed strict controls on the number of cars that could be sold every year, and reduced the number when any threat of traffic congestion seemed to be developing. I guess the geography of Singapore makes this sort of policy easier to implement than might be the case elsewhere.
    Cheers, Gail.

  3. It is slightly alarming to think that all that high rise concrete "stuff" is just perched on top of a load of gloop.
    Our old house stood on brick piers as it was built in a field with a very high water table. When we came to build an extension it was tricky finding a spot to put the Klargester septic tank as any holes dug into the ground immediately filled with water and the tank just bobbed up to the surface.

    1. 🤣 septic tanks on the surface not good. It's a learning curve we will be approaching with our antipodean build plans. As for gloop, Singapore is balanced on micro piles, on a macro scale, millions of them close together rather than big ones spaced well apart.

  4. you have described our world here in FL, even the sand and water underneath that requires pilings for more than 2 story buildings. or roads for that matter. the problem is there are to many people on this earth, we are living longer and longer and have more and more babies that live longer and longer.

  5. Oh what a lovely world it would be if we could give up our cars and instead used public transport. But for that to work you need good reliable public transport. And apparently that’s just too hard to provide. Well in Australia anyway. Having traveled Europe and the uk I envy their systems
    In Singapore we used the hotel shuttle bus to get to the places we wanted to go We were only there a few days


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