Forum: Use of leaf blowers driving people away from park

I agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr Mahinder Singh (Visitors should be considerate in nature reserves, Dec 1).

Noise is driving the elderly from the normally peaceful and tranquil Bedok Town Park.

The park has many mature trees, and fallen leaves on the grass fields and footpaths are a common sight. They used to be swept and collected by workers using brooms and wicker baskets. But since the beginning of the year, motorised leaf blowers have replaced the old method of collecting leaves.

The leaf blowers emit an ear-splitting, jarring noise that is unbearable to many of the park visitors, especially seniors who go there to get some respite from being cooped up at home because of the pandemic.

The loud noise happens a few times a week, and each time it goes on for a few hours. It may not disturb joggers, cyclists and brisk walkers as much because they are gone in minutes.

I have written to the National Parks Board (NParks) more than once. The initial reply I was given was that leaf blowers save manpower. But isn't this manpower saved at the expense of driving people away from the park?

I was later told that the use of motorised blowers is under the purview of the National Environment Agency.

It is quite ridiculous to see workers sometimes using the noisy blowers to blow only a few leaves from the footpath to the grass field on each side. And they continue doing this when there are children and old people nearby. The leaves are then left there for hours. When the wind blows, the leaves are scattered again.

I have asked NParks to follow the Botanic Gardens' example, that is, leaving the fallen leaves alone. In time they will become organic fertiliser for the trees. I believe an over-manicured park loses its natural beauty.

As pointed out by Mr Singh, NParks itself has said that loud noise at parks and nature reserves leads to an environment that is not conducive for communication between animals and has other detrimental effects. Is it not detrimental to humans too?

I appeal to whoever authorised the use of motorised leaf blowers to stop using them in Bedok Town Park. In fact, they should be banned in all parks. They are a scourge to park visitors.

Tan Kim Hock

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