Saturday, January 24, 2009

NParks to cultivate more open spaces in Singapore

FEW cities in the world are able to cultivate and transform open spaces into green lungs - tranquil places where those from the urban jungle can relax in.

Having achieved this, Singapore will have to think of ingenious ways and means to keep this a green and clean city, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday after touring the Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network.

‘It’s (about) maximising our limited land space to give the most to everybody who wants to get out of the urban jungle. So you can come here and feel that your surroundings are completely different, the ambience is different,’ he said after an hour-long tour.

‘And we’ve got to do this in many parts of Singapore in ingenious ways.’

This will make Singapore a unique city, he added.

‘There are very few cities that can set out to do this. We started out just by greening the place and keeping it clean. Then we’ve tried to beautify it. Now we’re trying to give it some flourish,’ said the architect of Singapore’s Garden City concept.

He noted that as Singapore urbanised, there were less uncultivated open spaces here. So the authorities have now been building ‘cultivated open spaces’.

An example of this is the islandwide Park Connector Network, which links up parks and nature sites to give people better access to recreation and nature.

The National Parks Board (NParks) aims to develop a 300km network by 2015.

About 105km of this has already been built. This includes the 42km Eastern Coastal stretch, completed in 2007, a portion of which MM Lee visited yesterday with Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan.

The stretch is one of the seven similar networks being planned islandwide.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his Budget Statement on Thursday that $1.3 billion worth of government projects would be brought forward this year. These range from HDB lift upgrading to building of park connectors and upgrading of military facilities.

An NParks spokesman told reporters yesterday that it plans to build 42km of park connectors this year - about twice its original 20km target - in the light of the economic downturn. This will cost $40 million in all.

Mr Lee yesterday also commented on the issue of littering. Asked about the prevalence of the problem, he said it remains a constant battle which will have to be tackled by engaging the public and schools, and through the media. It is also something Singaporeans have to accept, given the presence of a large foreign worker population.

‘You’ve got one million foreign workers who are not part of the community, who come in with different habits. You need them to do the jobs that Singaporeans either don’t want to do or can’t do.
You can’t say ‘You’re going to go through a training course before you start work’. So we have to put up with all these aberrations.’

Source: Straits Times - 24 Jan 2009

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