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  Channel NewsAsia 27 Dec 06
Economic losses expected to escalate with destruction from haze, rain
By Rita Zahara, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : Economic losses are expected to escalate with the destruction brought about by the haze and the monsoon rain, says economists.

They have earlier estimated that Singapore suffered US$50 million from the haze alone. And now, losses are expected to escalate with the onslaught of the monsoon rain.

Singaporeans have had to put up with rain and more rain in the past two weeks. And economists are starting to add up the cost of the wet weather.

"Productivity losses can stem from, for example, people getting to work late. They have to change their travel routine and it's more difficult to hail for taxi cabs. All these may affect arrival times and affect the services, which result in delays elsewhere," says Associate Professor Euston Quah, head of the Economics Division at Nanyang Technological University.

"There could also be construction losses. For example, construction may not be on time and will cause economic losses to business entities."

Other losses include higher probability of road traffic accidents, damage to property & businesses and rise in numbers of vehicles sent in for repairs.

Over at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the continuous downpour has caused landslides there. As a result, two popular trails - the Tiup Tiup trail and the Kampong Trail - had to be cordoned off. The rain has also caused more damage to Sime Track at MacRitchie Reservoir, further delaying repair works.

"I could not say that this is a good year for the environment pertaining to the forest - the extent of the forest fire as well as the prolonged rainy weather brought about by the monsoons. But it's a good experience as we will be more prepared in future. We can come up with remedial measures so as to lessen the damages that may arise from these two environmental crisis," says Associate Professor Quah.

The National Environment Agency says over the last 10 days, rainfall hit nearly 750 mm, more than double the long-term average rainfall for December which is about 280 mm. The weather man says the current spell of rainy weather is likely to continue till the end of the month. However, short periods of wet weather may still be expected in January 2007.

The Public Utilities Board says there have been no further reports of floods since Tuesday. But the widespread moderate to heavy rain warning continues to be in place.

Members of the public are advised to watch out for flash floods which may still occur in flood-prone areas.

The Land Transport Authority reminds motorists to be extra vigilant. Potholes are created when heavy rain seeps into cracks and weakens the road, but LTA says the holes are immediately repaired once detected. - CNA/ls

Related articles on Singapore: Haze
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