According to official history, Lee Kuan Yew had envisioned the transformation of Singapore into a “garden city”.
Since 1967, the government has spent billions of tax dollars to create an artificial environment to realise the vision of one man. Civil servants coasted along and have planted about 1.5 million trees to date. They are still oblivious to extreme weather changes and the increasing costs of maintaining an artificial landscape.
Maintaining our “garden city” image at all costs is a direct challenge to nature. With age and diseases, trees easily drop dead during a heavy downpour, claiming casualties and damaging property.
So why is NParks replacing trees and planting them as if there’s no tomorrow?
Two days ago, a tree fell on a car at a Serangoon North carpark during a heavy downpour. According to the unlucky car owner, “the tree was partially uprooted and had decaying roots”.
Image source: TNP
More unfortunate was a motorcyclist who is now in a coma after he was struck by a tree 10 days ago during, also during a heavy downpour.
Many large trees are now latent killers and the mother of all misfortune could see not one but even a group of people admitted to the ICU. NParks cannot afford to sleep on the job and assume the risk is minimal. Just last month, a very large tree fell in Tiong Bahru estate.
On the same day as the above incident, it was reported that many trees had also fallen in various parts of Singapore due to torrential rain.
And 4 months ago, another large tree fell, injuring 2 persons. There are no official figures but total damage to property has probably amounted to millions and there must have been hundreds of tree-related injuries so far.
Even the maintenance crew of NParks’ contractors are not spared, not just passers by. About a year ago, an Indian worker was killed after being hit by a falling branch while pruning a 25 metre-tall tree.
NParks appears to be on auto pilot, oblivious to the high non financial cost paid for the maintenance of our “garden city” image. Wouldn’t Lee Kuan Yew be turning in his grave if he knew his pet project has resulted in fatalities and injuries?
Is the impact on productivity negligible?
NParks doesn’t seem to be aware that as things age, they will break down more often and cause issues. Look no further than our MRT system and HDB lifts!
The trees grown decades ago are no longer sturdy and it’s not only very costly to inspect and certify their health: it’s impossible. It makes no sense to spend hundreds of million$ annually on maintenance and plant new trees if nothing has changed since about 5 decades ago.