Road transport in Singapore

History

The earliest roads in modern Singapore after its founding in 1819 were laid out in an orderly manner as detailed in the Jackson Plan of 1822, in keeping with Sir Stamford Raffles's directions. A grid system was adopted for the town area, with roads for carriages convert|16|yd wide, and those for horses at four yards. Pedestrian paths along the roadsides were two yards wide, allowing room for two to walk abreast and giving rise to the five-foot ways that came to be associated with the sheltered walkways along roadside shophouses.

These roads were fairly advanced for the time, with Macadam surfacing used on High Street, Singapore, in 1821, for instance. Roads were also constructed in the rest of the island, although they were usually unsurfaced. By 1842, Changi Point in the eastern tip was accessible via an extension of Geylang Road, while Pasir Panjang Road reached Jurong River in the west. The Bukit Timah Road was also extended to Kranji in the north by 1845, in proximity to where the Johor-Singapore Causeway was built almost 80 years later, in 1924. Still, only about 340 kilometres of road were built in the century after 1820, compared to more than 2,000 kilometres in the four decades after 1965.

As was the case in other urban areas of the time, the earliest modes of road transport were via ponies, and then horse-drawn carriages. Batak ponies from the Sultanate of Deli in Sumatra were introduced into Malaya in the Dutch era. They were often called "palonguins" or, later, "gharries"; they proved too small for the larger carriages introduced later by the Europeans. Driven as fashion statements for the social elite, the carriages would be paraded by the Europeans around the Padang; soon they were joined by their affluent Chinese and Arabic counterparts. So important were these parades in the networking opportunities they provided that merchants were known to voluntarily pay to build the public roads or to speed up road construction. Collyer Quay, for example, was constructed purely by private funding.

The most well-to-do would typically own their carriages and horses, often employing native Indian servants (popularly known as "Syces") to maintain them. Carriages for hire soon became available as well, with hackneys and "gharries" being the earliest forms of taxis in Singapore. Another early use of pony-drawn carriages was that of the Singapore Fire Brigade, the predecessor of today's Singapore Civil Defence Force.

See also

* List of bridges in Singapore
* List of expressways in Singapore
* Motoring in Singapore
* Transport in Singapore

References

*Ilsa Sharp, (2005), SNP:Editions, "The Journey - Singapore's Land Transport Story". ISBN 981-248-101-X


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