No tanks! HDB wants glass fish tank installed on doorstep removed; owner believes he should get to keep it

The Housing Board said that the tank would have to be removed as its position along a common corridor poses safety concerns that "could potentially lead to injuries or fatalities".
The Housing Board said that the tank would have to be removed as its position along a common corridor poses safety concerns that "could potentially lead to injuries or fatalities".PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Housing Board flat owner who converted the doorstep of his property into a fish tank for his koi carp has been asked to remove the unusual structure.

The Tampines Street 41 resident installed glass panels to the walls around the four steps into his ground floor flat to house around a dozen pet fish, but was not aware that he needed permission to make the alteration.

Belatedly, the man - who has not been identified - asked Tampines Town Council for a permit and last August Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng told The Straits Times that the "creative" tank was likely to be allowed, as long as it was found to be structurally sound and safe.

However the HDB said on Tuesday (Jan 15) that the tank would have to be removed as its position - along a common corridor - poses safety concerns that "could potentially lead to injuries or fatalities".

A spokesman said: "The flat owner has fundamentally altered the entrance steps into a koi tank, which poses several safety issues.

"For instance, the koi tank is made of glass and can shatter on impact. As it is also not enclosed at the top, unsupervised children may climb or fall into the tank."

Electrical sockets and cables connected to the tank are exposed to weather elements, posing further safety concerns, the HDB said.

 
 

It added that its guiding principle for town councils in managing the use of public spaces is that safety must not be compromised.

The flat's fish-loving residents also own the adjacent flat, through which they enter the unit with the blocked doorstep.

Last August, neighbours told The Straits Times that the tank was installed around three years earlier with one resident describing it as "unique and nice".

At the time the owner, who appeared to be in his 50s, said of his tank: "Outside nicer for everyone to see. The neighbours can appreciate it and enjoy it also."

When ST visited the unit on Tuesday night, the owner, who declined to give his name, was adamant that the space was his private landing and that he should be allowed to keep the tank. "It doesn't cause any obstruction to people and the laws should be applied on a case-by-case basis," he said. "If I go to any other unit, I will also find broken laws, such as plants on the stairs."

He said the tank has helped bring the community together, with visitors coming from as far as Jurong and Bukit Batok to view it.

"If I start a petition (to keep the tank), I think people will surely sign it," the owner added.

He had kept koi in normal tanks in the past, but as they grew bigger, he decided to build the tank on the steps. A contractor friend helped him to build it about two to three years ago.

To strengthen the tank, he subsequently used a metal bracket to line its edge. The tank contains more than 50 litres of water and about eight or nine Japanese koi, or carp.

He does not keep any fish in the flat itself, preferring to have them outdoors. He said: "The sun helps the koi develop brighter colours."