Mr Poon Hong Yuen,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join all of you at this morning's launch of the North Eastern Riverine Loop of our Park Connector Network.
Most Scenic Loop To-date
2. The North Eastern Riverine Loop, which runs a distance of 26 km, is the fourth of seven loops of park connectors in Singapore. This loop brings the total length of our Park Connector Network to almost 200 km to-date. The full 300 km of this Park Connector Network, which will be completed over the next five years, is part of NParks' continuing efforts to extend and upgrade our parks and green spaces, and make them more accessible to our citizens.
3. Indeed, we have come a long way since the development of our Park Connector Network started in the 1980s. Work on this new North Eastern Riverine Loop began as early as 1998. This loop will be the most scenic loop of our Park Connector Network to date. Eighty percent of this route will run along the waterways, linking up waterside developments like the Lorong Halus and Sengkang Floating Wetlands, the Punggol Promenade, and the Punggol Waterway for a seamless waterfront experience. Almost half a million residents living in Punggol, Sengkang, Buangkok and Hougang, as well as residents from other parts of Singapore, such as Pasir Ris, connected via a bridge to Lorong Halus, can enjoy the lush, rustic charm of our waterways. They can also have easy access to the four parks in the vicinity, namely, Punggol Park, Punggol Point Park, Punggol Waterway Park and Sengkang Riverside Park.
4. As I walked along the loop this morning, I noticed that besides the lush greenery, it is also teeming with wildlife! Besides the dragonflies, there are the occasional water birds like the Grey Heron (which is one of the largest birds in Singapore) and the white-throated Kingfisher, which you may spot along the loop. NParks also told me that there is a family of otters which makes guest appearances at some points along the loop, including, at Sungei Serangoon on my right.
5. Amidst our dense urban landscape, it is important to enhance our biodiversity within our precious green assets. Such biodiversity is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, and provides opportunities for recreational activities like bird watching. The park connectors also allow our people, especially our young, to be in touch with nature on a daily basis.
Creating a City in a Garden
6. Even as we balance different uses in land-scarce Singapore, the Government will continue to provide sufficient green spaces for the enjoyment of Singaporeans and our future generations. At the National Day Rally speech last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about how our urban landscape is surrounded by greenery, and our parks, gardens and green spaces are all linked up to create a City in a Garden.
7. The City in a Garden is a key vision for Singapore and Singaporeans. I understand that NParks has been gathering ideas from the public through exhibitions, roadshows, focus group discussions and social media on how to fulfil this vision. To-date, NParks has received more than 3,000 ideas on improving our parks, gardens and greenery, and conserving nature in our city. I am glad that so many Singaporeans feel so passionate about our little island, and want to help make it a model for city living of the future.
A Round Island Route for Singapore
8. Of these, a key idea which stood out is to have a green trail around the entire coast of Singapore. I am pleased to announce that NParks will be planning to build its next major infrastructure project - a Round Island Route for Singapore. The Round Island Route will be a seamless green corridor that goes all round Singapore, linking up many major natural, cultural and historical attractions to our parks, park connectors, and intra-town cycling networks. With a length of about 150 km, or more than three times the length of Singapore, the Round Island Route will connect more than 3.5 million residents along the route to become a recreational destination on a national scale. The Round Island Route will not only add a new recreation option for our citizens, but also enhance the experience of our park users and tourists.
9. In addition, the Round Island Route will allow us to embark on journeys to look at Singapore in new and wonderful ways, as it passes through popular recreation nodes and also the less seen and explored corners of our island. The Round Island Route also has the potential to host large community and sporting events like marathons. Perhaps one could enjoy a two-day cycling tour round the island using this route, and include an overnight camp at one of our parks.
10. The Round Island Route project is an excellent opportunity for Singaporeans to co-create and co-own this significant project with the Government. In the next few months, NParks will be organising roving exhibitions and focus group discussions to gather specific suggestions on what people would like to see and do on the Round Island Route.
11. With the Round Island Route, I am confident that it will bring Singapore a step closer to being a City in a Garden. In the meantime, I hope that you will enjoy your walk along the North Eastern Riverine Loop this morning. I am sure you and your families will have lots of fun on this loop.
12. Thank you.