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Thu, May 28, 2009
my paper
Girl's fall due to human oversight, says inquiry

[Top: Siti Nur Aini, eight, fell through a gap in the railings outside her flat.]

By Koh Hui Theng

LITTLE Siti Nur Aini Mohamed is now all smiles, and is jumping and running around in her home - two months after falling through a gap in the railings outside her Telok Blangah Crescent flat.

The Blangah Rise Primary 2 pupil, eight, suffered multiple fractures and went through no fewer than three operations as a result of the fall.

She was playing hide-and-seek with her uncle, national serviceman Muhammad Syukur Johari, 21, when she fell on March 8.

Yesterday, an independent inquiry chaired by architect Johnny Tan absolved the Tanjong Pagar Town Council of any blame and found that there was nothing wrong with its maintenance programme and telephone feedback system.

It was "human oversight" which was to blame, said Mr Tan.

The officer who last checked the railings in February failed to spot the severe corrosion and missing railings at the fourth-storey lift landing. He has since been deployed to a new job.

Tanjong Pagar Town Council general manager Simon Koh, 48, told my paper that the replacement is a polytechnic graduate with at least 10 years of town-council work experience.

The inquiry committee also recommended that property officers who inspect the estate also check the condition of railings.

This can be done by removing old layers of paint during maintenance.

Typically, an officer looks after 15 to 20 blocks of Housing Board flats.

In addition to ongoing monthly inspections, Mr Koh added that the town council will be implementing an extra layer of checks.

Two property officers will be tasked specifically to check the condition of railings every six months.

Following Siti's fall, Radin Mas Citizens' Consultative Committee set up a $10,000 trust fund for her education. It will be administered by her school.

Her family is also receiving $800 of NTUC FairPrice vouchers,from March to August this year.

The girl's grandfather, Mr Johari Muhammad Siamu, 69, said the help they received went "beyond (his) expectations".

The pensioner added: "I'm worried about Siti but, now, her medication and education have been taken care of. It's
time to look forward, for the sake of her future."

kohht@sph.com.sg


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