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Asiaone Bukit Batok

The top two stories of a carpark in the Bukit Batok West have always been empty for as long they live there, said the residents.

However, starting in 2004, residents from 383 to 395 at Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 slowly filled the car park in Block 395A with plants until it became a full-fledged garden. 

The residents, who are mostly senior citizens, have been putting plants all over the place for a few years. The citizens then started to commune in the open-air carpark to water and take care of the plants, the residents also socialize there and do tai chi while appreciating the flora.

Impending End of the Garden

However, the garden oasis is in its impending end due to the notices being put onto walls, poles, and lamp posts by the Housing Board, demanding the residents to clear the car park before September 12.

On Monday of August 23, a resident of the area for 10 years named Madam Shirley Cheng saw the notices posted on the area when she went to the carpark to do her regular plant tending.

She previously worked as a production operator and now she is retired. For six years, she has been caring for her plants in the rooftop garden and she has only seen the notice for the first time.

“I know this is not our property, but we see this garden as our second home, and it is just so sad that they have asked us to clear our items,” said Madam Cheng who is 67 years old to Asiaone news.

Illegal Planting

The notices stated that the pots and planters that the residents put up were illegally placed and had to be cleared out. The notices were put up because the residents near the area were complaining about the mosquitoes breeding and festering the area. 

A retired coffee barista named Chng Rui Feng is collecting signatures to make a petition to keep the car park garden. As of yesterday, he has accumulated 52 signatures supporting the petition and it will be sent to TNP.

“Many of the elderly folk who frequently come here are retired. Instead of staying at home all day, we prefer to tend to the garden, use the space to exercise, and practice tai chi. It has become a community,” Mr. Chng said.

A Community for Elderly Residents

Mrs. Fan Nyook Ying, a resident in the area also started to put plants there in 2009. She said that she became emotional upon reading the notice.

“This place is special to me because I have grown so many plants here over the past 12 years. I even have a section just for vegetables that I use when I cook,” she said, gesturing to her bitter gourd and mint plants.

Madam Cheng seconds the statement of Madam Fan since they became friends because of their shared love for gardening.

“To us, this place is not just a garden. Residents come here to exercise, talk to one another and get some fresh air. When my grandson was a toddler, I would bring him here to look at flowers and play,” she said.

Even though Madam Cheng knows that making the rooftop into a garden is illegal for them, she still has high hopes that their petition will be favored and to keep the garden.

“This place is where many of us seek comfort. We have grown many flowers and made many friends here. It would be a pity to let that go,” she added.

Final Words

For these residents, the area is not just a garden but a place where elderly people commune and socialize.