The Vanished Pasir Ris Farmways and Pet Farms

The area between Pasir Ris Park and Lorong Halus Wetland used to have three roads named farmway – Pasir Ris Farmway 1, Pasir Ris Farmway 2 and Pasir Ris Farmway 3. Only Pasir Ris Farmway 1 is left today.

In the fifties, the swampy Lorong Halus was used by the Municipal Commission for sewage treatment and refuse disposal. On its east were scattered villages and small vegetable, cattle and goat farms. In 1970, the government designated Lorong Halus as a sanitary landfill in Singapore, taking in almost half of Singapore’s rubbish output by the early eighties.

Due to the pollutions, foul smells and illegal dumping, Lorong Halus, for many years, left a poor impression to many people. After almost three decades, the Lorong Halus Dumping Ground was fully filled and was officially closed on 31 March 1999. The offshore islands of Pulau Semakau-Pulau Seking was selected as Singapore’s next landfill.

In the 2000s, Sungei Serangoon was dammed to form a reservoir. The Public Utilities Board (PUB) decided to transform the former Lorong Halus Dumping Ground into a wetland. Opened in 2011, the new Lorong Halus Wetland serves as a bio-remediation system for the reservoir, treating and removing any contaminants in the groundwater. A Lorong Halus Bridge was also built to connect Punggol to Lorong Halus Wetland and Pasir Ris Farmway 3.

Other than the landfill and villages, the region also saw the rise of fish farms and boom of seafood, ornamental fish and aquatic plant-related industries in the seventies and eighties. The area was further diversified in trades when it became home to many firewood and charcoal dealers and shops, who had relocated from Tanjong Rhu, in the eighties.

By the early nineties, the area was expanded through a series of land reclamation projects, and roads such as Pasir Ris Farmways were constructed. Pasir Ris Farmway 3 was initially called Pasir Ris Drive 12, before it was renamed in 2004.

Pet farms began plying their trades in the vicinity after the mid-nineties. By the 2000s, the Pasir Ris Farmways had become a popular go-to place for animal lovers. Besides the tropical fish farms, there were also numerous dog farms where puppies were bred locally.

More than a dozen pet farms had previously made their homes along the Pasir Ris Farmways, including The Pet Hotel, Ericson Pet Farm, Le Doggy Specialist, Topbreed Pet Farm, Kyoto Koi, TROP Aquarium, Koyo Aquatic Centre, Aqua Fauna Centre, OTF Aquarium Farm, Mainland Tropical Fish Farm, Tropical Fish International and Irwana Aquarium.

One well-known tenant was Zoe’s Pet Gallery, owned by Zoe Tay, opened in 1995 at Pasir Ris Farmway 2. The popular local actress would open her second pet shop at Frankel Avenue a year later.

Another one was Animal Lovers League’s Pets Villa, a non-profit rescue facility and shelter. It was set up at Pasir Ris Farmway 3 in April 2004 after the SARS crisis when the authorities carried out the culling of stray cats.

By 2010, Pets Villa was housing hundreds of abandoned and stray dogs and cats which were available for adoption. However, the large number of strays led to high maintenance cost of the shelter which constantly put Pets Villa in financial difficulties. In 2018, Animal Lovers League moved their shelter to Sungei Tengah Road after almost 15 years at Pasir Ris Farmway 3.

Despite its popularity, the Pasir Ris Farmways’ pet farms had its share of adversities. In 2006, drainage works at Pasir Ris Farmway caused a neighbouring fish farm to be flooded, leading to the death of its prized arowanas. In the end, the High Court ruled that the contractor in-charged of the project was liable and had to compensate the fish farm for their losses.

In 2013, a Pasir Ris Farmway animal shelter was found abandoned and its dogs and cats were left to fend for themselves for a week. One pet farm operator was fined $50,000 for animal cruelty after he failed to take proper care of the 15 dogs in his facility. Three shih tzus were found caged and dumped at Pasir Ris Farmway. They were rescued by a public member but died shortly after that. In 2017, another Pasir Ris Farmway dog breeder was fined $180,000 and disqualified from carrying out animal-related businesses for six months for neglecting the well-being of eight dogs under his care.

The early 2010s also saw Singapore’s export of ornamental fish hitting a slump. Coupled with the authority’s plan to redevelop the vicinity, many fish farms at Pasir Ris Farmways decided to close down or choose not to renew their leases. A few shifted to Malaysia to continue their businesses. For other pet farms, several were relocated to the sites at Sungei Tengah Road allocated by the government.

By the late 2010s, with most of the tenants gone, the Pasir Ris Farmways area had become quiet and deserted. According to the latest Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Masterplan, the area is likely to be planned for light and clean industry development in the near future.

In July 2022, the 30-year-old OTF Aquarium Farm became the latest fish farm at Pasir Ris Farmway to close. Its lease had run out and was ordered to stop its operations and hand over its site to the authority.

OTF’s rustic countryside settings and wide variety of affordable ornamental fish previously made it a popular venue among many fish hobbyists. With its closure, the remaining tenants in the vicinity are Mainland Tropical Fish Farm, Tropical Fish International and Irwana Aquarium.

As of 2022, the only roads in Singapore named farmway are Pasir Ris Farmway 1, Seletar West Farmway 1 to 9 and Murai Farmway. The area where the Seletar West Farmways are located is also currently undergoing redevelopment into an industrial estate. Some of the Seletar West Farmways may be expunged in near future.

Elsewhere, Seletar East Farmways, Punggol Farmways, Cheng Lim Farmways and Buangkok North/South Farmways had already walked into history.

Published: 31 July 2022

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