On the 10th of February, ODAC 31, still high from the CNY festivities of the previous day, brought their enthusiasm to the banks of Kallang River, all ready to do their part with Waterways Society. Having already garnered our Kayaking one-star, and for some, their two-star, we were all ready to get back into the water! But of course, we were doing came with a larger purpose behind it.
As part of the River Monster programme offered by Water Watch Society (WWS), we were tasked to clean up the nation’s waterways by picking up litter found in the rivers and reservoirs. To achieve this, we would be cruising (more like paddled strenuously?) the waterways in two-seater kayaks to ‘litter hotspots’, where we will carry out our operation!
LET THE OPERATION BEGIN!
The operation begun with an educational briefing by our group leader, a staff of WWS. We had a good recap on the skills we learnt in the 1-star kayaking course we took last year. The briefing also covered the importance of having a litter-free waterway. The most important reason would be to protect the marine life living in Singapore’s waters as the trash has the potential to kill marine animals and plants.
We hopped into our kayaks and started rowing like it was second nature. As seen from the big wide smiles, we were all very comfortable in our kayaks, and we set off to various checkpoints that are hot spots for litter – most of the time areas where commercial and recreational activity were carried out.
After rowing through the beautiful Marina Reservoir, we reached our main checkpoint. It was nestled in between commercial areas such as the Singapore Flyer and the Esplanade (which can be seen in the background). We were given a final briefing before we started on our operation. As we paddled, rather strenuously might I add, we attempted to retrieve floating litter onto the kayak.
But we were not alone. Mediacorp also wanted a share of the action, with filming crews from It Figures joining in (hardly) to pick up litter, but also to highlight the state of Singapore’s reservoir system. When it came time for us to shine on camera, however, we all shied away with much awkward shuffling
After 3 hours of hard work, we managed to find 57 kg worth of trash!! Shockingly, we found 2 brooms as well as a traffic cone. In such a small area and such a short time, we had already found SO MUCH rubbish. Imagine the amount of rubbish in our waterways. Thankfully, we have hidden heroes who clean up our waterways daily. The Marina catchment specifically (where we kayaked) has a cleaning battalion of 120 workers and 8 boats deployed daily from 7am to 7pm. Doesn’t this once again highlight the fact that we are not the cleanest nation but rather the most cleaned nation?
Even though the areas around waterways are meant to be a fun and enjoyable space for the young and old to relax and engage in recreational activities, giving people greater access to reservoirs and parks also runs the risk of more litter and pollution. But is that really the way we should approach this? As a great man once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”, we have been given the freedom and privilege to use this beautiful space, shouldn’t we be the ones to take ownership of our own trash as well?