Diggersite at East Coast Park allows park-goers to operate special excavators

Mr Victor Khoo (right), 37, operating an excavator at Diggersite with his daughter Sophie, two. The owner, Mr Lim, hopes that his enterprise will improve perceptions of blue-collar jobs.
Mr Victor Khoo (right), 37, operating an excavator at Diggersite with his daughter Sophie, two. The owner, Mr Lim, hopes that his enterprise will improve perceptions of blue-collar jobs.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

New attraction at East Coast Park allows park-goers to operate special excavators

An interesting sight along East Coast Parkway has attracted a number of curious visitors, with its bright yellow signs and young patrons in safety vests.

Diggersite, located at Raintree Cove, opened in February this year. The 232 sq m area, about the size of six classrooms, allows children and adults to sit in life-size excavators and perform simple tasks, such as picking up bricks and knocking over metal bottles.

Owner Edwin Lim, a former engineer and father of two in his 40s, said he wanted to show that excavators were not just for blue-collar workers and that much skill goes into operating them effectively.

Among the three stations at Diggersite, two - sandpit and wrecking ball - are located outdoors. The ball pit station is in the air-conditioned main building.

Diggersite, which has two other crew members, is busiest on weekends. Said Diggersite marketing manager Stina Lim: "Our clientele is mostly parents in their 20s and 30s, and they come from all walks of life. Most of them choose to visit Diggersite as part of a family outing to East Coast Park."

UNDERESTIMATED JOB

When people come here, they operate the machines and they realise it requires a certain set of skills to be used effectively. It's not that easy.

DIGGERSITE OWNER EDWIN LIM, a former engineer, noting that the centre is more than just a play space.

Many of the site's young patrons are from the neighbouring Lorna Whiston pre-school.

But Mr Lim is quick to clarify that there is no upper age limit to operating the machinery, with teenagers and curious parents also hopping onto the excavators.

"This is more than just an amusement park ride, it also develops fine motor skills," said Mr Lim, who hopes to work with schools and government agencies to bring the experience to more people.

All six excavators at Diggersite are brand new, though the management declined to comment on how much they cost. The excavators operate on a token system, which allows a five-minute ride for $7.

To ensure safety, children aged two to six must be supervised by a parent or guardian. They must also wear safety helmets. Crew members are stationed at the outdoor stations to observe and assist patrons who may be having trouble operating the machinery.

Said bank executive Wilfred Ho, 37, who took his son and daughter to Diggersite: "My son has always been interested in construction toys, especially excavators, and I want him to have the opportunity to sit in a life-sized one... They seem to like the sandpit the most."

While Mr Lim has no plans now for expanding to other areas in Singapore, he hopes that his enterprise will get Singaporeans to dig deeper and change their views on blue-collar workers and their jobs.

"When people come here, they operate the machines and they realise it requires a certain set of skills to be used effectively. It's not that easy," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'They're digging this new ride'. Print Edition | Subscribe