NParks Fixes Gap In Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Bridge After Man & Daughter Fall Through
During a heavy downpour on Monday (23 Jan), a man and his 2-year-old daughter fell through a bridge at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Luckily, some passers-by were around to help the family and the girl emerged unscathed, though the man had a few “bad cuts and bruises”.
However, he was unhappy with that there were no staff available at the visitor centre afterwards. A call with a 995 operator also left him in shock as he was told not to call the number if he did not need an emergency ambulance.
In response to media queries, the National Parks Board (NParks) said a combination of high tide and heavy rain had caused a gap in the bridge’s floor panels.
SCDF also said it regrets how the incident was handled and pledged to update its call-taking protocols.
Man and his daughter fall through Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve bridge
Instagram user @buckyhussain said in a post on Tuesday (24 Jan) that he and his family had gone to Sungai Buloh Watland Reserve on 23 Jan.
Not expecting a downpour, the family did not bring umbrellas and carried the kids out when it started raining.
On the way out, while crossing a bridge over a storm drain, the OP fell through a hole while carrying Ashley, his daughter.
He said they were “seconds away from drowning”.
Instinctively wrapping his arms around Ashley, he also said he would have been swept away if he didn’t manage to somehow anchor himself on a side plant with his elbows and foot.
A group of passers-by then came along to pick up his daughter and help the rest of the family across the bridge, while the OP managed to haul himself up.
After that, the family tried to patch up the bridge together with the group of 2-somethings who helped them out, but to no avail.
“In the heavy rain and if you’re paying attention to getting the f*** out, no way you’d see it,” he said.
Luckily, Ashley was fine and could even laugh in the car afterwards, although the OP had some bad cuts and bruises.
However, he was just glad that the family was safe.
No staff at visitor centre
Later, the family decided to go to the visitor centre, intending to let NParks know about the hole in the bridge.
But they found no one manning the counter there. Hence, they decided to call 995, but were told by the operator that they should address the issue to the “right agency”.
“I hung up, but not before telling the operator that if someone calls needing and ambulance or worse for this same issue I warned him about, he will regret his response,” the OP said.
He told SCDF to rethink their protocols and not simply say to direct the matter to another agency.
SCDF responded via a media statement, saying its operator could have done better in managing the case by reassuring the caller that SCDF would immediately follow up on the issue with the appropriate agency.
SCDF also said it has since contacted the caller and expressed their regret in how the matter was handled, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported.
According to them, “the caller appreciated SCDF’s follow-up.”
It’ll review its call-taking protocols as well, it said.
NParks cordoned off area
NParks group director of conservation Lim Liang Jim said the incident had taken place at a crossing of a sluice gate.
Due to overflowing water during the peak of the spring tide as well as heavy rain, a gap appeared in the floor panels.
NParks cordoned off the area after the incident and the gap was closed, Mr Lim added.
The OP also received a call from an NParks director and was told that the gap had been fixed.
“Thank you for the swift action,” he said in a follow-up Instagram story.
It spoke to the family and thanked them for helping to inform other park visitors, as well as notifying staff to rectify the gap.
“For their safety, members of the public should seek cover at the nearest shelter available, and avoid entering the nature reserves and forested areas including Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve during and immediately after inclement weather,” he said.
Temporary closure to sections if flooding occurs
Mr Lim also said that NParks are monitoring the water levels in the reserve closely.
If flooding occurs, certain sections may be closed temporarily.
As rain is set to continue over the weekend, do be careful if you’re visiting the wetland reserve in the coming days.
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Featured image adapted from NParks.