The transformation of Bukit Batok

Located in District 23 of Western Singapore and spanning 1,104 hectares, Bukit Batok is bounded by four major roads: Chua Chu Kang Road to the north; Pan Island Expressway to the south; Old Jurong Road to the east and Bukit Batok Road to the west.
The estate comprises of nine sub-zones: Gombak, Hong Kah, Brickworks, Guilin, Hillview, Bukit Batok West, Bukit Batok East, Bukit Batok South and Bukit Batok Central.
Bukit Batok's enclave map. Source: Google Maps

From quarrying village to residential enclave

Hilly side of Bukit Batok. Image Credit: Shutterstock
In the 1950s, Bukit Batok began as a largely undeveloped, remote town occupied by farmlands, villages, granite quarries, forest reserves and factories. Despite multiple interpretations, many believe that when directly translated from the Malay language, with bukit meaning “hill” and batok meaning “cough”, the name ‘Bukit Batok’ literally means: Coughing Hill. One possible explanation was the cold air in the hilly area that easily caused coughs. Another school of thought points out the frequent blasting of granite quarries then, which sounded like the hills were “coughing”.
In the 1960s, majority of the population were living in poor housing conditions or temporary structures. Policymakers then crafted a five-year masterplan to build a satellite town in the 1970s. The completed Bukit Batok New Town covered 750 hectares, with four neighbourhoods providing approximately 26,000 flats to house over 130,000 citizens.
In addition to housing policies, Bukit Batok has transformed under public efforts to improve infrastructure, such as the 1970s nation-wide drainage schemes to alleviate flooding.
Today, Bukit Batok forms a connected residential estate comprising of linked shopping centres, nature parks, clubhouses, a driving centre and an industrial park.