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  Straits Times Forum 4 Jun 07
Watch out, falling trees can happen anywhere
Letter from Chong Seow Kheng

Straits Times Forum 23 May 07
NParks should check soil around big trees
Letter from Richard Goh Chee Kok

Today Online 18 May 07
Wet weather fells more big trees

Today Online 18 May 07
Insurance plan to protect victims of falling trees?
NParks should act to prevent future accidents

Letter from Goh Kian Huat
Letter from Albert Tay Beng Guan

I refer to the report, "Fallen tree was healthy" (May 17). Madam Ho Siew Lan, a 43-year-old dental assistant, was killed by a falling Albizia tree at the Bukit Batok Nature Park.

It was indeed a tragedy that nobody expected would happen. As her husband earns only $1,300 per month, her family will face financial difficulties.

According to the National Parks Board (NParks), the Albizia tree was healthy and trees in nature parks are inspected every two years. This shows that regular inspection has its limitations.

Other than checking for trees that are diseased, should not the inspection officers also assess them on the grounds of whether they can withstand bad weather such as strong winds and torrential rains?

A tree that may be uprooted by strong wind should be chopped down, even if it is perfectly healthy.

In addition, given the fact that incidents of falling trees and branches are common 2, 333 cases in 2003 and 1,030 in 2006 it indicates that regular inspection of trees alone cannot help to avoid such incidents.

Singapore is a garden city, with trees planted everywhere. While we enjoy the shade provided by the trees in the parks or on the roads, we are also subjected to the risk of being killed or crippled by falling trees.

Our property, such as cars, may also be damaged.

NParks may not be legally liable for any injury, death or damage caused by falling trees under its care. But as part of its social responsibility, perhaps it should have an insurance plan in place to protect innocent victims such as Mdm Ho.

I refer to the report, "Two killed by falling trees" (May 16).

It is not the first time that trees at the Bukit Batok Nature Park have fallen during wet weather. Another instance was in January last year, when a number of trees fell on parked vehicles. At least one bus was damaged (picture). Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Must the National Parks Board wait for more fatalities before taking effective pre- emptive measures such as periodically felling older trees with shallow roots?

Today Online 18 May 07
Wet weather fells more big trees

This huge tree (picture) crashed onto an empty parked car and bent a street lamp at about 2pm yesterday at the junction of Rochor Canal Road and Syed Alwi Road. The owner of the car said that at the time he was waiting in his home nearby for the rain to stop so he could go out and buy lunch for his mother.

Meanwhile, another fallen tree at Sin Ming Road was reported to have damaged a lamppost and the roof of a shelter. No one was injured.

Days earlier, a woman was killed by a tree at Bukit Batok Nature Park.

With the heavy rain, minor flash floods occurred at two spots in Thomson, in front of Goodwood Florist and near the Toa Payoh Rise junction, said a Public Utilities Board spokesman. But unlike the heavy flooding that badly affected nurseries in the area in December, the waters this time subsided after 30 minutes.

The weatherman has forecast more wet days in the next two weeks due to regional inter- monsoon conditions. Moderate to heavy thunderstorms are expected. Jasmine Yin

Straits Times 23 May 07
NParks should check soil around big trees
Letter from Richard Goh Chee Kok

I REFER to the accident at Bukit Batok Nature Park.

According to a National Parks Board (NParks) official, the Albizia tree which fell on Madam Ho Siew Lan was checked subsequently and found to be in good health. The tree fell due to weather conditions and their effect on the soil around the tree.

In view of the many tall trees all over Singapore and the risk to lives, I hope NParks will check not only the trees but also the soil in which they stand.

In extremely bad weather conditions, bigger trees may become uprooted due to loosening soil and not the age of the tree. Therefore, NParks should use its expertise to check potentially risky sites, focusing more on soil conditions.

It is a tragic loss when someone is killed by a fallen tree.

Educating park users to be alert is one thing, but preventing soil from loosening in bad weather conditions is more relevant in this case.

Straits Times Forum 4 Jun 07
Watch out, falling trees can happen anywhere
Letter from Chong Seow Kheng

WITH the recent spate of freak accidents of falling tree branches killing unsuspecting victims, I would like to remind everyone to be careful when travelling from one point to another.

This is not just in forested areas like Bukit Batok or MacRitchie, where the reported incidents occurred. In fact, the risk is real, and it can happen anywhere where there are trees.

I would like to highlight an incident I witnessed two weeks ago, which thankfully did not result in any mishap. I was riding my motorcycle along East Coast Parkway towards the city. As I passed the Ford Road exit, I saw a fairly large branch from a tree beside the expressway fall onto the bonnet of a passing car, before breaking into many small pieces. It was a shock, not only to me, but I am sure to the driver of the car too. It would have been worse if the branch had hit a lorry with passengers in the rear or a motorcyclist. The result would have been tragic.

The National Parks Board or the authority concerned should conduct a thorough check on trees beside roads and paths that have heavy traffic.

Naturally, cutting down the trees is not the way to go, if Singapore is to remain a Green City, and for the simple reason that the weather has not been too predictable of late.

There will be cost involved, but it is a small price to pay for public safety. Let's be a little bit more proactive and not wait for another tree to fall in another unlikely location before action is taken.

links
Man dies after being hit by fallen branch near Tree Top Walk
Channel NewsAsia 31 May 0


Woman dies after being pinned under fallen tree
Channel NewsAsia 15 May 07

Related articles on Re-creation in our wild places and Trees in Singapore
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