PUB knew canal was not big enough but didn’t act?

I don’t expect to have no floods in Singapore, and I think Singaporeans are willing to forgive the occasional lapse in planning that leads to floods of this nature. But I would have expected at least an ounce of contrition on the part of the Minister for his ministry’s failure to act on a known problem in time. Instead, Singaporeans just got excuses and extreme examples. “Sorry” seems to be the hardest word for our leaders to say.

Environment Minister Yaacob Ibrahim attributed last Thursday’s floods in Bukit Timah to a “freak” event that occurs “once in 50 years”.

He said: “What happened was very unusual. The intensity was tremendous.”

Flood waters partially submerged ground-floor buildings and cars. The Straits Times carried a picture of a car in car park with the water mark reaching almost the side view mirrors. The flooding occurred along two stretches of Bukit Timah Road — from Coronation Road to Third Avenue and from Wilby Road to Blackmore Road. The damage from all this has yet to be tallied.

A businessman TODAY interviewed remarked: “This is like those news footage you see of floods in Manila or Jakarta. This is a prime housing area. I don’t understand how the flooding could have happened.”

According to a PUB spokesman, the heavy rainfall caused the 1st Diversion Canal from the main Bukit Timah canal to burst its banks. The canal was built 37 years ago, in 1972.

I was therefore surprised was to hear the Minister say: “We knew the diversion canal was not big enough to take this.”

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