Clementi landslide: Close call for warehouse worker who passes area when cycling home

Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann (centre), who is the area's MP, at the Ulu Pandan Park Connector. PHOTO: SIM ANN/FACEBOOK
Most expressed shock at the scale of the landslide and concern for the safety of park connector users. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
The landslide uprooted three trees and moved three street lamps to where the water's edge used to be. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
Otters, monitor lizards and water birds were seen exploring the blocked part of the canal. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - Warehouse worker Lim Thiam Chye, who got off work at 1am on Friday, was cycling from his Toh Guan workplace to home in Clementi when he noticed there was no streetlamp light and the Ulu Pandan Park Connector path was cloaked in darkness.

It was a close call – the 56-year-old met two migrant workers who told him that just minutes before, a landslide about the size of a football field broke the path he would have taken into pieces.

It uprooted trees and street lamps, sunk part of a Build-To-Order (BTO) construction site and connected both sides of the canal with displaced soil.

"If I had left work 15 minutes earlier, I wouldn't be standing here, I could have died," said the 56-year-old in Mandarin.

Mr Lim was one of several residents, cyclists and joggers whom The Straits Times spoke to after arriving at the scene at 9am.

Most expressed shock at the scale of the landslide and concern for the safety of park connector users.

Mr Tay Wei Min, 41, who lives at Block 208B Clementi Avenue 6, next to the Clementi NorthArc construction site, said he found out about the landslide on Facebook.

"From the photo, it looks quite scary and dangerous," said the human resource executive, adding that many residents used the flight of stairs close to the landslide as it is the most direct way to get to the park connector.

"I'll still jog there but I'll keep a lookout to see whether there is any movement in the soil," he said. "I'll pay more attention now. If not, I'll jog on the other side instead."

The authorities have said that checks showed the buildings in the immediate vicinity remain structurally sound. One passer-by sustained minor injuries and was attended to at the site.

The site drew a small but steady stream of people, some of whom were at the opposite side of the bank and had brought along cameras to take photos and videos of and with the landslide. Many of them walked up to the top of a small slope to fit the entire landslide site in frame.

A staff member from Chiu Teng Construction said he was at the site to figure out how best to bring an excavator in to clear the obstruction in the river. "Even the trees slid down about 30m," he added.

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The firm has been appointed to carry out repair works.

The landslide uprooted three trees and moved three street lamps to where the water's edge used to be.

Otters, monitor lizards and water birds were seen exploring the blocked part of the canal.

A little after noon, those at the site watched with interest as an excavator poured concrete onto a portion of the landslide site, a move a construction worker said will prevent the soil from collapsing further.

As the rain got heavier and harder to ignore, the usual stream of about 10 to 15 people dwindled to just a few.

Mr Baven Chin, 53, a frequent cyclist in the area, said it was fortunate that the landslide occurred in the wee hours and not later in the morning, when there are usually plenty of people.

"You don't want to be the one that got swept away when this collapsed," said the management consultant.

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