12 Jul 2010, 9.00AM
The recent spate of torrential rains in Singapore triggered flash floods in several parts of Singapore, and resulted in some damage to property, loss of business and disruption to traffic, bus services and businesses. Most notable of the areas affected was the Orchard Road area, which saw flood waters reaching a depth of 300mm at its peak. However, the flash floods had subsided within an hour.
REACH's feedback channels have been abuzz with discussion on the issue, especially the flood in Orchard Road. Contributors have been taken aback that such flooding could strike in the heart of Orchard Road, an area not known for floods in a very long time, and coming so soon after the floods in Thomson and Bukit Timah in recent years.
Many expressed concern about the extent of business losses, and speculated on the possible reasons for the flood. These include climate change, inability of the existing drainage system to cope with high surface run-off, complacency of those responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the system, and lack of co-ordination among the planning authorities. In addition, they also acknowledge the role that littering may have played in the episode, as well as the impact of recent massive construction efforts in the area. Perplexed contributors question if the relevant agencies have been monitoring the work of the cleaning sub-contractors, and wonder whether the newly-constructed Marina Barrage has been an effective flood control measure.
The Public Utilities Board's (PUB) had explained that the flood was caused by two periods of short and intense rain, estimated to be 60 per cent of the average rainfall for June. Their subsequent probe into the flood at Orchard Road revealed that the flooding had been worsened as a result of blockage caused by debris washed up at an underground drain (culvert) near Delfi Orchard. Many contributors opined that the explanation seemed "convenient", with some questioning why debris was allowed to accumulate to such a detrimental extent. Some also expressed disappointment at the perceived inability of the authorities to manage our waterways. Given that Orchard is a prime tourist destination, some believe that the incident has adversely affected Singapore's reputation. Others lament the lack of priority given to mitigate the impact of climate change and global warming.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had explained that it is not possible to be completely flood-free in tropical Singapore. However, with the lessons learnt from the recent floods, he assured that the Government will review and upgrade our infrastructure and systems, so as to prevent widespread and prolonged flooding. Having contingency plans will ensure swift response in dealing with the floods and minimising the risk posed to lives and properties.
Nonetheless, some contributors expressed appreciation to the PUB for its honesty and for taking responsibility for the incident. Going forward, the contributors hope the relevant agencies can work together more effectively to prevent a recurrence. Besides enhancing the drainage system, they also urge the authorities to ensure that cleaning contractors carry out their assigned tasks to a prescribed standard.