There are four low-rise blocks of public housing, not more than five storeys high, at the junction of East Coast Road and Siglap Road. These flats were built in 1963 by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), one of their first public housing, for the affected residents of a big fire at Siglap.
Sparked off by firecrackers near the famous Siglap Market during the celebration of the Chinese New Year in 1962, the flames quickly spread to the nearby kampong and engulfed 50 attap houses. With hundreds of residents in the vicinity left homeless, the HDB moved in quickly to build the Siglap blocks at the site of the destroyed kampong to house the victims.
When the flats were completed, they were standing near the the coastline. The sea and beach, however, had disappeared when East Coast was being reclaimed in the mid-sixties.
Block 1 to 3 are owned by the residents, whereas Block 4 is a block made up of rental units. All the blocks are without lifts, and consist of two-bedroom units.
The region around East Coast Road is considered a prime area as it is largely made up of private housings and condominiums. These four blocks of flats are the only public housing here, with the nearest public estates of Marine Parade and Bedok more than 1km away. Thus it is inevitable that this small aging neighbourhood, with mostly elderly residents, will be selected for the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).
Many residents have made this quiet neighbourhood their homes for decades, and have expressed reluctance to move. However, they are expected to shift out before 2015 to their new replacement flats at Chai Chee Road.
The nine rental shops and an eatery at this small estate will also be affected by the SERS program. One of the shops, a traditional barber shop, has been operating here for 42 years. With declining business and poor health, the 61-year-old barber is considering retirement in another three years’ time when the estate is due for demolition.
For other public housing affected by SERS, read Singapore En-bloc Flats.
Published: 28 November 2011
Updated: 19 May 2013