Monday, January 6, 2014

The Straits Times : Your grandfather's road? Not in Tiong Bahru

The Straits Times
By Melody Zaccheus

6th January 2014

Campaign urges motorists to use the 700 public parking spaces in estate

The leaflet also lists alternative parking spaces around the estate. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

THE traffic snarl-ups that have plagued the narrow streets of the Tiong Bahru conservation estate for the past five years could soon become a thing of the past.

A new campaign - "Is this your grandfather's road?" - was launched yesterday as part of the Seng Poh Residents' Committee's kindness movement. It will encourage motorists to use the 700 public parking spaces across the estate instead of parking illegally.

Complaints from residents about inconsiderate drivers and congestion have been on the rise since cafes and eateries started setting up shop in the neighbourhood. Common black spots include the area around the Tiong Bahru market and Seng Poh Road.

"It now takes me six minutes to drive out of the estate via Tiong Poh Road on a weekend instead of the usual two minutes," said resident Choa Haw King, 37, a financial entrepreneur.

A group of 20 residents and volunteers took to the streets with Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah yesterday morning to distribute pamphlets, detailing the locations of these parking spaces, and placing them on windscreens of illegally parked cars. The parking spaces include the freshly repaved open-air carpark at Block 78 and another in Seng Poh Lane.

Ms Indranee and volunteers giving out leaflets encouraging drivers to park at designated carpark spaces. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

"Now that I know there are parking spaces for us, I will make the effort to park there," said lorry driver Raymond Oh, 43, who frequents the Qi Tian Gong temple and had parked illegally in Eng Hoon Street.

The initiative is part of a slew of measures rolled out by a seven- member task force set up by Ms Indranee last February to address "disamenities" caused by the rise in commercial activities in the residential estate.

Comprising residents' committee members and residents, it works with agencies such as the Land Transport Authority and the National Environment Agency.

Task force co-chairman Chris Hooi told The Straits Times: "The agencies used to act independently. The task force helps to coordinate and gel everyone together so that matters can be addressed quicker."

Over the past few months, the team has worked on adding 50 public parking spaces in Eng Hoon and Eng Watt streets and has improved walkways, lighting and landscaping on the streets of the 77-year-old estate. It has also addressed hygiene concerns such as rat infestations and littering.

The task force is monitoring the number and types of food and beverage outlets setting up shop there and helping to curb illegal sub-letting, alterations and additions to conservation buildings.

Ms Indranee said these will continue. Efforts will also be made this year to foster a stronger sense of identity among the estate's stakeholders. There are plans, for instance, to include facilities such as a chill-out area for youth.

"There are residents who have lived here for a long time and those who are new to the area," she said. "Both groups have a sense of pride and affinity to the neighbourhood. We want to build on that."


Seriously speaking, were any of the streets named after your ancestor?

AS WELL as encouraging motorists to park considerately, organisers of the "Is this your grandfather's road?" campaign are seeking out the descendants of the 17 pioneers whom the streets of Tiong Bahru are named after.

"Their contributions will add to the body of knowledge about Singapore's very own pioneers and generate awareness among residents, their descendants and Singaporeans today about the impact they made on the community," said Mr Kelvin Ang, chairman of Seng Poh Residents' Committee. He hopes to erect storyboards in the estate bearing snippets of their biographies and accounts from family members.

The following pioneers are three of the personalities whom the streets are named after:

Tan Kim Ching (1829-1892); Kim Cheng Street

The eldest son of philanthropist Tan Tock Seng was one of Singapore's leading Chinese merchants of his time. He was also a member of the Royal Court of Siam.

Seah Eu Chin (1805-1883); Eu Chin Street

Seah was a wealthy Teochew merchant who made his fortune from the cultivation of pepper and gambier. He was also the founder of social welfare organisation Ngee Ann Kongsi.

Low Kim Pong (1837-1909); Kim Pong Road

The businessman and devout Buddhist is famous for his contributions to the building of the Siong Lim Temple in Kim Keat Road in 1902. He was also a founding member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce.