Singapore under smog

Images taken as Singapore survives hazardous PSI levels in another day under the thick blanket of the Indonesian forest fire haze… 


As the annual Deepavali festive approaches around the corner, Singapore deals with the unwelcome after-party of their other yearly, less colourful event – the Sumatra haze. 


Caused by farmers in Indonesia burning forests to create palm oil, and to keep their soil fertile, Singaporeans experience the after effects as the thick stench of smoke lingers throughout the day like the smell of a dying cigarette. Whilst on the streets at night you pass children and the elderly clearing their throats into tissues, or government issued masks.


Headaches are common throughout the day, and despite the chemicals in the air life continues at the same fast pace; the trains are full of early-morning commuters, kids still play football at the park on weekends and the workers still work through the night  – it’s as if nothing has changed.


The outdoor food markets, known to locals as ‘Hawkers’, are still busy until 10 at night with the flow of fried food and alcohol. Conversations regarding daily work-related niggles, or drunken domestic disagreements feature on the constant playlist of the markets, and life appears as normal. 


But no-one is quite sure how long the haze will last, and there is an uneasy feeling about the persistent cloud that blocks out the night sky, distorts the sun’s colour and cancels sports-day events, the people have no control over it. What they are breathing daily is contaminated air with an unhealthy mixture of suspended particles that cling to the back of your throat like a strand of hair in the mouth. With no escape, apart from under air-purifiers within the air-conditioning units of office blocks and faulty taxi dashboards, or N-95 masks that fit the mouth like a muzzle, there is a real concern for the long-term effects of this annual affair.

[Pictures and words OliverwJarvis]
[Model – Sonia D’Silva]