Tampines HDB resident and town council working to keep koi tank

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.
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. PHOTO: ST FILE

They are working on appeal to HDB while looking at addressing public safety concerns, says MP

There might be hope yet that an unusual koi tank built on the doorsteps of a Housing Board flat could be retained, with the owner now working with the Tampines Town Council to address safety concerns.

The HDB had said on Tuesday that the tank would have to be removed as it poses safety concerns that "could potentially lead to injuries or fatalities". These concerns include the risk of the glass tank shattering or children climbing into the tank.

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. The family goes in and out of their home through the front door of an adjoining unit that they also own.

In response to The Straits Times queries on Wednesday, Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said HDB had valid concerns over public safety, and the town council is working with the resident to try to address these issues.

He said: "We are in the midst of putting up an appeal to keep the tank. We need to sort out some details... We need to address HDB's concerns, and we hope that HDB can be a bit flexible."

He said there are some preliminary ideas, and the town council hopes to put together the appeal within the next two months.

With regard to concerns about the glass shattering, the tank uses tempered glass, which does not shatter into sharp shards as compared with regular glass, he said.

 
 

On concerns that children may fall into the tank, the MP said the tank is not very deep and anyone who is able to climb into it is likely tall enough not to drown. But one potential solution to avoid this risk would be to put up railings around the tank, he added.

As for the electrical sockets and cables connected to the tank that HDB said are exposed to weather elements, he said the town council will ask the resident if he can put up some protection to remove this risk.

"It's about how we strike a balance," he said. "We hope that this can be a test case where all parties come together to work towards a win-win situation."

He said that he is helping with the resident's appeal as he felt the case has merits, citing reasons such as how the tank has lasted without problems so far, and how it has been accepted by the community.

"The tank has stood the test of time. If it is something that is built recently, we won't be able to tell how sturdy it is, but it has been there for two or three years and hasn't caused any trouble," he said.

"It is also something the community enjoys. It is not just the resident who keeps it, but stakeholders, neighbours and children in the area have shared how they appreciate it."

When ST visited the unit on Tuesday night, the owner, who declined to be named, 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2019, with the headline 'Resident and town council working to keep koi tank'. Print Edition | Subscribe