Rivers of Singapore - 5 Important Rivers That Flow Through the Lion City

Singapore is a place where its rivers have always helped the city for various occupations like commerce and economics. The rivers of this city are shallow, narrow and short, playing a significant role in many areas and are nowadays modified into canals or dammed up. Let's learn more about the beautiful rivers in Singapore.  

1. Singapore River

The Singapore River flowing through the Lion City
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One of the principal rivers of Singapore is the Singapore River, natively known as 'Sungai Singapura'. It has its origin at Kim Seng Bridge as Alexandra Canal and presently lies in the central region of the city. The 3.2 km long starts from Kim Seng Bridge at esplanade where it enters the Marina Channel and flows out to the Singapore Strait. The river shares its boundaries with River Valley and Museum, Tanglin and Bukit Merah, Outram and the Downtown Core.

The area around Singapore River was a centre of trade and commerce as the city grew around a port, for more than a century, and even now, the Downtown Core to its east, is still Singapore’s Central Business District and Financial Hub. Various myths and legends associate themselves with the Singapore River, namely the early civilisation in this place by the Javanese Majapahit Empire or when the Malayan princes once sailed away and stomped her bullock carts on the bank.

This beautiful river of Singapore is now being used to create a new freshwater by damming its outlet into the sea by the Marina Barrage dam.

2. Kallang River

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The Kallang River, also called Sungei Kallang in Malay, is the longest river in Singapore. This river is 10 km long starts from the Lower Peirce Reservoir via Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh and Geylang Bahru extending up to the Kallang Basin, which is further linked to the Marina Channel. Sungei Whampoa, the Pelton Canal, and the Bukit Timah Second Diversion Canal are the tributaries of Kallang River.

Kallang derived its name from one of Singapore’s earliest settlers orang Kallang who were skilful boat dwellers, and had their home in the swamps of the river Kallang in the 1500s. The industries along this river of Singapore were famous for the Gasworks, powdered street lighting, garments and printing materials.

Few of the other famous landmarks situated along this Singapore River are Kallang Airport Building, National Stadium, Merdeka Bridge and Sri Manmatha Karuneshvarar Temple.

3. Rochor River

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Rochor River is a small but famous river in Singapore. It is about 0.8 km long and a canalised river in Kallang. Rochor Canal is the 1.1-km stretch between Jalan Besar and Crawford Street and Rochor River is a continuation of the Rochor Canal. It begins beneath Victoria Bridge and empties into the Kallang Basin.

The source of this river of Singapore lies in Beauty World MRT station, which is an underground Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station on the Downtown Line in Bukit Timah. It is even expanded and reduced accordingly to control the floods in Bukit Timah. The Rochor River has been made dirty and polluted a lot, but recently it has developed into a clean and beautiful riverfront ­­– complete with benches, malls, plazas and rain gardens where people can come, walk and spend time. The infrastructure and transportation alongside the river are also much improved too.

Along the Rochor River canal are the rubber factories, ice works, and different types of markets like the Sungei Road Thieves’ Market and Singapore’s oldest flea market. Some other landmarks are Malabar Mosque, Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah and the Jalan Kubor cemetery.

4. Geylang River

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Geylang River, also called Sungei Geylang in Malay, is a canalised river of Singapore flowing from Geylang to Kallang, in the Central Region. The river originates in Ubi as Geylang Canal, flowing through Geylang Road, Guillemard Road and the Dunman Road. It finally empties into the Kallang Basin near Tanjong Rhu in the southern part of Kallang.

The Geylang River too shares a history with the Orang Laut group. It was created when in the 1840s, the British moved villages of Orang Laut who were living at the mouth of the Singapore River, to banks of the Geylang River.

The Geylang River in Singapore has gone through two years long revamp too, initiated by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) programme.

5. Sungei Serangoon

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River Serangoon, also called Sungei Serangoon, is a river in the north-eastern part of Singapore. Approximately 8 km in length, it starts as a canal near Tampines Road and flows through Hougang, where this river of Singapore joins it just before Sengkang, and then it is joined by another tributary Sungei Blukar before flowing towards Lorong Halus and then finally empties itself into the Serangoon Harbour. Sungei Serangoon is also known as the Serangoon Estuary as the river has been converted into a reservoir - Serangoon Reservoir, since 2011.

Several development activities have been taken at Sungei Serangoon till dates like the construction of an overhead bridge linking Old Tampines Road and the KPE expressway, the metal bridge linking Punggol East and Lorong Halus and the damming of the estuary of Sungei Serangoon.

Redevelopment of the Rivers in Singapore

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The British settled in Singapore in 1819, more than a century ago. Since then, the Singapore River and its banks were the focal points of all global and regional trade passing the island. Rivers in Singapore have been facing several threats ranging from developmental activities to pollution which has negatively impacted the biodiversity of river habitats.

Today, river pollution has become a significant problem in Singapore as all kinds of garbage, sewage and industrial waste are dumped in the rivers.

Since many years, the government is studying the state of the rivers in Singapore and how they can improve the condition of these rivers and solve various problems. Different steps, projects and ideas are launched, and the officials are working on it for the betterment of the ecological conditions of the rivers.

Main Objectives of the River Cleanup:

  • Removal and deposition of polluting sources which are formed by the domestic, commercial and industrial wastes
  • Development of infrastructure which is necessary
  • Taking care of the water supply, sanitation, wastewater treatment and electricity
  • Strict law enforcement
  • Cleaning and dredging of waterways
  • Awareness programmes so that the population becomes aware of the overall development programmes in the city.
Singapore is many things, from the multiple cultures to massive skyscrapers and beautiful attractions. The rivers in Singapore are another decorative element that adds to the beauty of this ever-growing city.

This post was published by Shreyasi Das

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