Sunday, May 10, 2015

Nparks’ silent heroes – making our parks safe

On one of the rare days when hubs was on leave, I brought him to Kent Ridge Park to enjoy my favorite view of Singapore in the west. There by the lookout point, we saw Singapore growing inch by inch at Pasir Panjang as truckloads and truckloads of sands were dumped to reclaim the sea. The sun in the east beat down on the stretch of sand, man and machine. A veil of yellow dust hung over the reclaimed stretch and made the western waters beyond it a dusty blue.

I showed hubs my favorite treetop walk that looks over the Normanton Park valley. Not far at the start of a footpath, a tree has just recently been struck by lightning, its blackened downward scar revealed. Plants at the end of the black welt were burnt to a dry cinder.

It was another idyllic morning until we saw a group of Nparks contractor getting ready for work.

One end of the treetop walk was out of bounds to the public as the walk was undergoing maintenance.  The guys were preparing harnesses so that they could rappel down the 20m high walkway to paint the supporting structures. One of the workers was kind enough to allow us to see them at work and even included a little narrative so that we could understand their work better.

The guys are specialists who had gone through special training. They had with them a paint roller and ½ a pail of rust resistant paint , all hung from clamps attached to their waist. The rope that could take a load of 700 kg was just one of the 2 ropes holding them in midair so that they can do their job safely. Hopefully the safety rope need never be used.

To lean backward to paint the undersides of the walk, one of the feet will step on a looped end of a rope extend from their waist to provide leverage. While this was going on, the rest of the co-workers were securing ropes for themselves, looping the thick ropes through the board slates. To retrieve the end of the rope hanging under the walkway, they used the hooked end of an umbrella , a most innovative tool.

Each man did his own harness and safety ropes. Minimal conversation was exchanged while the men very systematically went through the setup. Hubs and I did not dare utter a word less we distract them in the process. But seriously, I thought these cool dudes should be in movies as stunt men in their spare time!

No doubt these guys were doing a job, but pride in their work showed. I could see that they loved what they were doing and they knew they were a special bunch. The men looked out for each other and took their work and safety seriously.

What could I say? They, the silent heroes , were there to make our recreation area safe. As for me, they were the coolest guys I have met that day.