TOC speaks to Mr Leong Kwok Peng, Nature Society's (Singapore) Chairperson of Conservation Committee on the latest development in NSS's efforts to save the KTM railway lands and push through its proposal to convert the area surrounding the railway lines into a Green Corridor.
Q: With the Tanjong Pajar Railway Station slated to cease operations from 1st July, will happen to the Railway Lands?
The urgent issue currently would be the tender by SLA (Singapore Land Authority) for removal of the railway tracks. If the railway tracks are gone, the Green Corridor will lose the heritage and historical theme - an important one to a lot of people.
Q: Have the group met with any government authorities yet? What did they say with regards to your proposal to keep the line as a Green Corridor?
A: We have sent letters to the relevant authorities such as MND (Ministry of National Development), CEO of SLA, Nparks and LTA(Land Transport Authority) to seek a 6 month moratorium commencing 1 July 11 for the KTM railway land.
We have asked that any dismantling works of the KTM tracks and ancillary structures be deferred during these 6 months except for reasons of safety.
We also suggested in the letter that the public should be allowed to venture and explore the entire railway land and that the authority can take this opportunity to garner feedbacks and conduct consultations to find out how the public would like the railway land to be used. We think this step is crucial.
As the Singaporean public has been kept out of the KTM railway land for decades during the tenure of KTM, this would be a once in a lifetime chance for the public to see the railway land as it is with its railway tracks, structures, bridges etc all intact. The railway has been with us for many decades - relatively an additional six months is a very short amount of time.
Q: Considering that SLA has already gone ahead with the tender to remove the railway tracks, is it a sign that the hope to preserve the Railway Lands in their entirety lost?
A: BG Tan Chuan Jin (Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Manpower) has already make some comments on the Green Corridor in the "We Support the Green Corridor" Facebook. We think it is a positive message. So all is not lost yet.
You can find out more about the Green Corridor Proposal here.
Watch a slideshow of a segment of the railway line below.
Read also "Saving The Line"