KTM greenery to be preserved: Khaw
By Fiona Low, The Straits Times, 18 Jul 2011.
The iconic tracks of the KTM railway will be dismantled from today, but Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan assured the public that the lush greenery surrounding them will be preserved.
Walking the tracks with his family and pet chihuahua Tammy yesterday evening, the minister added that after the tracks are dismantled, parts of the path will be reopened to the public again.
Speaking to reporters after the walk, Mr Khaw said there were many possibilities for housing development in the areas currently occupied by the tracks.
‘But we will do it in a way where we can still preserve this green spine. I’m quite sure it can be done and it will be very nice. We can have urban development but still maintain the greenery,’ he said.
The railways tracks will be dismantled and returned to Malaysia by the end of the year as part of the agreement between the two countries.
Mr Khaw said that his ministry had initially hoped to keep the tracks open to the public for two months before starting to dismantle them. But that timeframe was shortened because the contractors were worried that the dismantling could not be completed by the year-end deadline.
Most of the 26km green link from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands will be closed from today, except a 3km stretch between Rifle Range Road and The Rail Mall which will stay open until the end of this month.
Mr Khaw said the contractors will have to rush to finish removing the tracks, and may have to work overtime.
‘But the commitment with Malaysia is year-end so we have to deliver, just as they delivered on their agreement to move the railway,’ he added.
About 200 people walked alongside Mr Khaw on the 1.5km stretch between Holland Drive and Tanglin Halt. The walk was organised by the Ministry of National Development’s recreational club.
Earlier in the day, three presidential hopefuls – Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Mr Tan Kin Lian and Mr Tan Jee Say – were also spotted walking the tracks.
It was also crowded with people like Ms Kalavathy Govindarajoo, 42, who was there with her husband to take pictures.
‘It is a piece of history and a place of good memories for me,’ she said. ‘I hope they will convert the Bukit Timah station into a museum. It would be a good place to show future generations what our railway was like.’