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  Straits Times 18 Jul 07
More safety measures in place at reservoirs
Khushwant Singh

Channel NewsAsia 17 Jul 07
Adequate safety systems in place for water activities

SINGAPORE: Members of Parliament were assured on Tuesday that steps have been taken to ensure that users of parks and reservoirs are safe within the premises.

At the same time, Singaporeans are urged to exercise personal responsibility when undertaking outdoor activities.

There have been 21 drowning cases at Singapore's reservoirs in the last ten years. And five of these cases happened at the Lower Seletar Reservoir with the latest on 27 May, when a man drowned after his kayak capsized.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Environment and Water Resources Ministry, said: "For the incident at Lower Seletar Reservoir on 27 May, it was found that the man and his wife had strayed out of the designated kayaking area, despite being briefed by the staff of the water activities centre on the safety procedures and the limits of the designated kayaking area."

Dr Khor said adequate safety systems and procedures are in place for water activities. The PUB and People's Association (PA) have also reviewed them and enhanced procedures for kayakers.

Dr Khor said: "The demarcations of kayaking areas for walk-in public have been more prominent at all reservoirs with water activities. (The) PA and National Sports Association will also be looking into providing walk-in public with devices that they can use to send out distress signals, should they encounter difficulties in the water.

"The operators on shore actually have binoculars as well as (a) whistle and air horns to alert kayakers if they see them straying off the designated area. Ultimately, the responsibility to ensure the safety of the users really lies upon themselves. They have to exercise individual responsibility, they have to adhere to the rules and make sure they do not take any action that will endanger their lives."

On accidents and deaths from falling trees, the National Development Ministry said while tree diseases can be diagnosed and brought under control, there are elements of nature that are beyond the administrator's control.

Grace Fu, Minister of State, National Development Ministry, said: "Where periods of continuous rainfall or strong winds have happened, we have taken measures to close the nature parks, if necessary.

"Following the incidents, we will step up warnings to the users of the park. In the case of the central catchment area, we did close the park to the visitors, but unfortunately the group of visitors had already passed the gates."

Ms Fu said besides increasing public awareness on avoiding forested areas during inclement weather, National Parks will also increase the number of rain shelters. - CNA/so

Straits Times 18 Jul 07
More safety measures in place at reservoirs
Khushwant Singh

MEMBERS of the public who go kayaking at reservoirs could be given devices to send out distress signals if they encounter difficulties in the water.

The demarcating of areas where the public can go kayaking has also been made more prominent, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Environment and Water Resources) Amy Khor said yesterday.

Dr Khor was outlining steps that were being considered, or which had already been taken, to ensure the safety of leisure and water sport enthusiasts in such areas.

She was responding to concerns expressed by Ms Lee Bee Wah (Ang Mo Kio GRC) about drownings, including in Lower Seletar Reservoir.

Dr Khor said adequate safety measures are in place at water activity centres.

Over the past 10 years, there have been 21 drownings in reservoirs - five in Lower Seletar Reservoir and the rest in the other seven reservoirs. Of these, only one death occurred in a water activity centre - on May 27 when 32-year-old Mr Khoka Mohammed Burhan drowned after his canoe capsized at Lower Seletar Reservoir.

In the majority of the other cases, the coroner recorded an open verdict - meaning he was unable to ascertain the exact circumstances of the deaths - while a few were ruled suicide cases.

Safety measures at areas where the public can enjoy water sport activities have nevertheless been enhanced.

A spokesman for PUB, the national water agency, said last night that buoys have always been placed at reservoirs to mark the areas for water activities such as kayaking and canoeing.

And at Lower Seletar Reservoir, red buoys have been added to make the demarcated zone more visible. Other safety enhancements include patrols by safety boats and more prominent signage on safety procedures.

Still, Dr Khor said users were ultimately responsible for their own safety: 'They have to exercise individual responsibility, they have to adhere to the rules and make sure they do not take any action that will endanger their lives.'

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