Preparing for the big show

Nicoll Highway With only a few weeks to go before the big IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Singapore, it’s time for the organisers to get beyond the PR fiasco of the Four Million Smiles campaign (dutifully derided on the mrbrown show and by two different Four Million Frowns counter-campaigns), push back the shirtsleeves and get down to real work.

Like putting up glaring neon yellow signs to warn people of imminent road closures during the period that the meetings are beind held (September 10-20). Republic Boulevard’s closed and they’re taking away my beloved Nicoll Highway too, which will make getting into town from the east something of a pain.

The Channel NewsAsia report on the road closures was delightfully understated in concluding that “because of the expected congestion, motorists are likely to see a longer travelling time.” Ya think?? Also, don’t be coy about it and think we won’t notice. What they meant to say was, “There’ll be helluva lot of traffic jams due to the road closures, which will make it a bitch for ordinary Singaporeans who won’t be chauffeured around in fancy BMWs with police escorts.”


Anyway, I expected the road closures and the attendant traffic snarls, but I didn’t figure on how much overnight landscaping would also be involved. Take Nicoll Highway, for instance. It’s always been an unassuming and purely functional stretch of concrete-and-tar linking Geylang with the Marina/City Hall area. Even after it was rebuilt after the collapse in 2004, it wasn’t “upgraded” in any way.

Nicoll Highway Now that the IMF/World Bank bigshots are going to be in town and spending a lot of time around and possibly along the Highway, though, Nicoll Highway’s getting a nice makeover. Shrubberies are moving in, transplanted overnight in a fully grown state to line the southern edge of the highway (see photo below) and partially disguise the white hoardings of the MRT construction site. (I bet there were many meetings with furrowed brows and wrung hands over whether the MRT work could be completed any more quickly so that the construction site could be dismantled and the area prettified for our precious international visitors.)

There’s also a lot more greenery dressing up the giant intersection of Raffles Boulevard and Nicoll Highway — yes, otherwise known as the giant construction site that they’ve been digging up and diverting traffic around for years. Now all the roads there run at right angles again, you can actually see the beautiful and highly underrated War Memorial Park, and it’s all very pedestrian-friendly. Thank goodness for the IMF/World Bank Group meetings, or who knows how long that part of town would have resembled the Big Dig.

So on the surface, everything will be very pretty and pleasant for the visiting delegates. Meanwhile, no public protests will be allowed, not even by foreign NGOs (earlier, it was only Singapore groups that were barred from such protests). Because we can’t have pesky, messy public demonstrations messing up our clean streets and pretty shrubberies.

Welcome, world, to Hotel Singapore!

1 Comment so far

  1. jer (unregistered) on August 20th, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    on top of that, they are also closing roads for the upcoming SAFRA Sheares Bridge Run and Army Half Marathon.

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