Kallang River Clean-Up Enhances Student Social Responsibility

Seven in 10 National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduates are ready to take part in social volunteering if their friends take part, revealed a recent poll by NUS Volunteer network. On August 16, this result was put into action as 40 SIM university students cleaned up the Kallang Basin River, and created a splash in doing so.

by Aio Medina Aceremo

Singapore, 25 August 2009. Forty students from the Singapore Institute Management (SIM) Canoeing Club came together for a river clean-up expedition at the Kallang Basin River (Marina Reservoir) on 16 August 2009.

Paddle power.

This was the first social responsibility event organised by the SIM Canoeing Club. The canoe club, based at the SIM HQ campus on Clementi Road, aimed not only to keep the Reservoir clean but also raise the awareness among university students, especially SIM students and the general public on how best to keep the river clean.

"Kallang River is largely affected by the low and high tides as they are linked to the open seas. During low tides, the whole area would stink as a lot of rubbish (i.e plastic bags, food wrappers, can drinks, plastic bottles, furniture woods and decomposed animals) are washed up. When the SIM Canoeing Club goes out to the waters for our water trainings, rubbish obstruct us. We always had to manoeuvre our kayaks to avoid them," SIM Canoeing club president, Sarah Ng Shu Zhen observed.

VP Shian Junsheng added, "As the old Kallang Basin River is being converted into the Marina Reservoir, we believe it is but timely to bring about awareness on this issue of keeping the river clean. It is important to us, especially so as Singapore’s largest reservoir is a tourist spot. With our country’s beautiful image at stake, taking care of our resources and training in a clean environment motivates us to embark on this expedition."

Small plastics, rubber bands choke fishes and turtles.

Kallang River gets a clean up.

This student initiative benefitted the community at large, in particular the dragon boat and canoe teams and other sports clubs who use and frequent the river. The clean up also helped maintain the image of Singapore as a clean city. Boat operators, like Duck Tours and River Cruisers, also use the River on a daily basis.

The SIM team paddled from the Marina Barrage to the Singapore River. Environmental awareness is gained by leveraging on the high traffic flow along the Singapore River. All participants paddled in a single or double slalom kayak (about 20-25 boats) covering a distance of about 10 km. Each individual had one trash bag to contain the litter they saw floating on the water.

Shu Zhen, a student in her final year in the SIM-RMIT Business Management programme, explained, "We saw some rubbish like beer cans and small plastic wrappers at Kallang Basin River. Upon reaching Boat Quay area, we found other rubbish, mainly plastic food wrappers and a lot of cigarette butts.

The team felt that one of the main contributors of the waste condition in Singapore is actually people. Singapore, which plays host to many tourists’ attractions brings in human traffic. The areas at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay are dotted with pubs and restaurants. This may lead to a constant supply of litter and rubbish.

Junsheng is optimistic. "I think each one of us needs to play a part in managing the waste condition in Singapore. Singapore is after all a tourist destination and we should first start by disposing unwanted rubbish in proper disposal bins."

Overall, the students felt that Singapore’s waste management system is quite efficient because all waste collectors and recycling plants are licensed, and waste is collected on a daily basis. They also felt that the authorities are doing a good job by carrying out daily cleaning at the waters.

The trash collected at the event were separated into recyclables and non-recyclables.

Photography courtesy of SIM.

For more information, reach the SIM Canoeing Club at canoeing@clubs.sim.edu.sg.