Sometimes you wonder about the reasoning that comes out of the government's mouth. Referring to the deluge that many parts of Singapore faced on Thursday afternoon, Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim was reported to have said that this kinds of deluge (rain) happens only once in 50 years. Well it happened yesterday, in the year 2009. According to his estimate, the next deluge of this size isn't due till 2059. So I am puzzled why the Public Utilities Board (PUB) wants to upgrade Bukit Timah's first diversion canal, which was built in the 1970s to alleviate the then flood-prone area. It has proved to be effective all these many years, except last Thursday, which as Dr Yaacob Ibrahim explained, was a rare occurrence.
Or is the PUB not letting on something? If so, then could Thursday's deluge have been prevented in the first place, or was somebody sleeping on the job. It has had to take a severe act of God to wake up our overworked(?) civil servants?
I was surprised that a wide expanse of that Bukit Timah area was flooded. Ever since the early 1980s, where floods still occurred, it has never happened again, thanks to the civil works to widen the canal and making sure that the waters flowed into our rivers unimpeded. I know, because I once had to wade, knee-deep, to make it to school there, and that was 1981.
Looks like Singapore needs to do some more digging, of a different sort that Minister Raymond Lim is familiar with. It needs to make sure that the same flooding will not occur again. But then, going by PUB's account, that wouldn't be 50 years hence. There's all the time in the world!