12 Jul 2013
Tourists, clubs, and generally a great place to hang out. These thoughts come to mind when we think of the Singapore River today. But not so long ago, I doubt anyone would like to go anywhere near it unless he was a psychopath who fancied the smell of animal waste, mixed with a tinge of crude oil and a dash of hawker food.
The Singapore River was a victim of Singapore’s success. As trade and industry saw staggering growth in the 1960s, more people started to settle down along the banks of the river, which resulted in overcrowded living conditions. With more people living along the river, hawkers naturally flocked to the area to provide nourishment for the workforce and residents. This, coupled with the animal farms and the inefficient sanitary system at that time, meant that many waste products were unceremoniously dumped into the river. As the years rolled by, our river became increasingly polluted, becoming a lifeless pot of poison by the end of the decade.
Plans to clean up the Singapore River were brought up by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as early as 1968, but it wasn’t until 1977 that the ambitious project began. Hawkers and residents were resettled, farms were cleared, and trade was shifted to other ports. After ten years of hard work, the river was finally cleaned and pubs and restaurants that we know and love started to set up shop along the banks of the river. Still, we must remember fresh air and clear waters won’t remain unless we make a conscious effort to preserve our beloved river.
If you’d like to know more about the Singapore River Clean-Up, check out this rather wordy but very insightful report:
By Jax Sparrow