SINGAPORE: A project to build polders at Pulau Tekong is more than halfway complete, and is set to finish by the end of 2024, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said on Sunday (Apr 17).
Polders are tracts of land that lie below sea level and are reclaimed through the building of dykes, drainage canals and pumping stations. They will help to protect Singapore against rising sea levels brought about by climate change.
The project was first announced by the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 2016.
Mr Lee wrote on Facebook on Sunday that he visited the polder project at Pulau Tekong last week.
Giving an update, he said the perimeter of the polder has been set in place and that the construction of the dike wall is ongoing.
Within the polder, most of the low-lying land has been created and soil improvement works are being carried out to strengthen the ground, he added.
Infrastructure works to prepare for the construction of key facilities such as the pumping stations and electrical substations have started.
"Significant parts of Singapore are 4m or less above mean sea level, putting us at risk when sea levels rise due to climate change," the minister said.
"The team has been working hard over the last few years, and like all other projects, COVID-19 posed challenges to the polder project too," he added.
"But the project team has been working closely with the contractor, and there has been some good progress on the works."
As shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his National Day Rally speech in 2019, the project at Pulau Tekong will allow Singapore to gain experience in developing polders, which "could be an option" for coastal protection and resilience against rising sea levels, he said.
Singapore has partnered closely with the Netherlands to design and construct the polder, drawing on the European country's experience and adapting it to Singapore's tropical context.