The mouth of Singapore River used to be the Old Port of Singapore. It was the centre of trade, finance and commerce. Due to the heavy traffic, expanding trade and increasing immigrants along Singapore River, the river start to get polluted and congested from 1880s. Disposal of garbage, sewage, industrial waste products and oil spills polluted the Singapore River. As times goes by, Singapore River is filled with trash, dirty water and had a stench.
In 1977, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Prime Minister back then, brought up the Singapore River cleanup project to clean up and beautify the once beautiful Singapore River and Kallang Basin. He envisions a prosperous, lively riverside waterfront living along this legendary Singapore River. With that thought, a plan and project was drawn up. The major clean up involves restoration of proper sewage system, resettlement of squatters, relocation of heavy industries and re-sitting of street hawkers. It took ten years to complete the cleanup and relocation of the industries and immigrants. So in 1987, the efforts paid off and Singapore River return with its former days charm and glory and an event called the Clean Rivers Commemoration was held to celebrate the success of the project.