The tragic incident involving the passing of Miss Chew Jia Tian, aged 33, in Sentosa Cove, who embarked on a kayaking excursion with her friends, has sparked significant safety apprehensions. On October 22, she went missing during the outing, and her body was discovered in the vicinity of Sentosa two days later.
Sentosa Cove is a waterfront residential enclave situated on Sentosa Island in Singapore. It’s known for its luxurious properties, including waterfront villas, condominiums, and townhouses. This upscale residential community is built around a network of canals and offers residents the opportunity to park their boats right outside their homes.
Why is the Sentosa Cove Unsafe?
Following the recent accident, numerous kayakers who frequent the area have pointed to a combination of factors that make kayaking in Sentosa Cove risky. The primary concerns are attributed to the challenging ocean currents and the presence of a potentially hazardous blue floating security barrier. This barrier, initially installed in 2014 to restrict the movement of illegal immigrants and to prevent disruptions by high-speed craft, was extended along the Sentosa coast around 2020.
When paddlers navigate from Tanjong Beach to the Southern Islands, they encounter strong and unpredictable currents. The key issue with the barriers, as described by affected kayakers, is that when the currents are high, there’s a risk of boats capsizing, and the floating barrier can push objects beneath the water’s surface. This can pose a serious danger, as individuals may be pushed under the barriers, and the strong currents make it difficult to re-enter a kayak. Such incidents have become distressingly frequent, prompting safety concerns within the marine community.
While the barriers were recently adjusted, they have not significantly improved the situation. The substantial installation costs have added to the complexity of addressing the issue. Furthermore, the rescue operations in this area are constrained, with the Maritime and Port Authority’s (MPA) large vehicles posing challenges in providing assistance. It’s worth noting that the Singapore Canoe Federation emphasizes that the majority of paddlers can navigate around these barriers without colliding with them.
Experienced kayakers have proposed a solution to enhance safety by aligning the barriers in accordance with the current flow or positioning them closer to the shores. However, it’s crucial to emphasize that, ultimately, it falls upon the kayakers themselves to take preventive measures and exercise caution when navigating these challenging waters. Venturing out into such tricky conditions alone is strongly discouraged.