A little further to the north, Singapore is having a few growing pains of its own. Famous mainly for cleanliness, orderliness and coming top of various international rankings, it has also experienced recent problems with flooding, crowding and housing availability. Other major world cities might chuckle at the idea of these being crises in need of urgent attention, but Singapore is concerned its current economic success and expected population boom from 5 million to 6.5 million in the coming decades will only strain things further. Even tourists are contributing to the crowds with over a million visiting in a single month for the first time in July 2010.

Flash floods caused S$23 million (US$17 million) damage in central Singapore in June/July, paid for by insurance companies who are likely to raise premiums for residents and businesses in susceptible areas. An increase in car ownership now sees 936,311 vehicles on the roads, up from 755,000 five years ago. Daily journeys in private vehicles and on public transport are expected to increase 60% by 2020. Affordable housing is also becoming more scarce, with many first-time buyers failing to find a suitable home.

As a city-state, Singapore doesn’t have the option of relocating its capital or developing regional areas. Suggestions are to expand the city underground and further develop outlying areas as commercial and residential centers. Singapore’s main challenge is to expand the city while maintaining its natural environment and residents’ famous quality of life, aspects it regards as priorities.

sources: AFP via Olive Ventures