Workers rappel down Jurong West block to trim overgrown plants on 9th storey, owner 'very sad'

Wallace Woon
The Straits Times
Nov 2, 2022

Workers rappelled down from the rooftop of a Jurong West Housing Board block on Tuesday morning to trim overgrown plants which had taken over the exterior of a ninth-storey flat.

With the area below cordoned off for safety purposes, three workers, suspended on cables attached to the roof of Block 426 Jurong West Avenue 1, took six hours to remove vegetation that had grown out of the balcony of the five-room flat.

The plants belong to retired engineer Kang Poh Kim, who said he was sad that his plants were cut down.

“I was watching television at the time and I saw the workers come down,” the 74-year-old said, adding that he had been growing the plants since he moved into the flat nearly 40 years ago.

“I didn’t stop them or argue because I didn’t want to cause any trouble, but my plants are all gone now, so I’m very sad.”

A Jurong-Clementi Town Council spokesman said that the overgrown plants from Mr Kang’s home was a longstanding issue and that Jurong GRC MP Xie Yao Quan, his team and the town council had been aware of the situation.

The spokesman said: “The town council, together with other relevant government agencies, had urged the resident on multiple occasions to do proper housekeeping, and remove the plants if necessary. 

“As there had been no significant improvement to the situation, and in view of public safety and health, the town council decided to take further action to remove the plants by deploying workers on rope access to trim the overgrowth.”

The spokesman added that while the town council understood Mr Kang’s wish to keep his plants, they stressed that it was important for residents to keep their plants well-ordered to avoid posing any danger to the public or their health.

When The Straits Times visited Mr Kang’s home on Wednesday, photographs taken from his travels were plastered on every surface of his living room walls. 

All that remained in the balcony were the sawed-off stumps of the plants in a structure attached to the wall that Mr Kang said he constructed himself.

He said he made this wooden structure to allow excess water from watering the plants to drip out and flow into the drain.

Mr Kang had told Shin Min Daily News earlier that his plants were similarly trimmed about two or three years ago, and believed someone had complained then.

Retiree Anthony Kouh, 72, said that the overgrown plants from Mr Kang’s balcony were a source of frustration for his neighbours.

Mr Kouh, who lives on the fourth floor of the block, said: “He’s been told many times by officials, but he ignores them. The plants wind up breeding mosquitoes and dripping water down, so it’s much better now that they are now gone.”

Mr Kang said that his only option now was to wait for the plants to grow out again. He added: “I have been growing these plants for so many years, and now they’re all gone. But the roots are still here, so it’s a matter of time that they’ll grow back again.”

The Straits Times

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