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Letters to the Straits Times Forum Page, 9 May 05

Don't let Pulau Ubin become Sentosa No. 2

It is good to hear that development plans recently unveiled promise to provide visitors with a richer experience of the natural and rustic charms of Pulau Ubin.

However, every effort should be made to prevent the island from being tainted with the commercialism of Sentosa.

For me and many Singaporeans, Ubin is a therapeutic place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life in Singapore. It is the last frontier far from the madding crowd.

The island provides endless hours of pleasure and recreation to nature lovers, hikers, campers and cycling enthusiasts.

Pulau Ubin is the last of Singapore's precious nature resorts which do not have the artificial trappings of urbanisation.

The flora and fauna of Ubin should be guarded jealously against any form of development work. Its pristine state should be preserved for the sake of future generations.

However, to cater to the basic needs of both Singapore and overseas visitors, I would like to suggest the following:
  • Provide a hawker centre near the jetty with toilet amenities.
  • Upgrade the existing public toilets.
  • Preserve the natural footpaths and do not pave the roads as cyclists prefer the original setting of the enviroment.
  • The authorities should complement the existing bumboat operators and provide smaller air-conditioned boats plying between Changi Point Ferry Terminal and Ubin Jetty at a shorter interval of, say, every 20 minutes from 6am to 8pm.
Nelson Quah

Reply to letter to the Straits Times Forum, 23 May 05
Ubin will keep its natural ambience

WE REFER to the letter, 'Don't let Pulau Ubin become Sentosa No. 2' (ST, May 9).

We are glad that Mr Nelson Quah treasures the natural and rustic charm that Pulau Ubin offers. We have the same feelings for Ubin, which is increasingly popular with people who seek a more natural environment away from the mainland for recreation and to de-stress.

The National Parks Board (NParks) will be careful not to destroy the very ambience that is sought after. To enhance the unique wilderness experience of the island, NParks has an ongoing programme to rehabilitate derelict land that had been severely impacted by past granite quarrying activities. Such areas will be revegetated, making them suitable as wildlife habitats, and at the same time, made conducive for public recreational activities.

The toilet at the information kiosk near the jetty was upgraded last year to cater to the needs of visitors. We will monitor the usage of other toilets around the island and when the need arises, those will also be upgraded.

We also wish to assure Mr Quah that existing natural footpaths will be kept unpaved.

On the suggestion of providing a hawker centre near the jetty, the existing village eateries are currently sufficient to cater to the needs of visitors and contribute to the idyllic ambience of the island. Having a hawker centre on the island might affect the rustic ambience we are trying to preserve.

As for the suggestion to provide air-conditioned boats, currently 35 bumboats provide ferry services to Pulau Ubin and they are run by private operators.

As the port regulator, it is not appropriate for the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to provide ferry services to compete with these operators.

However, MPA welcomes bumboat operators to run air-conditioned services if there is market demand. Like existing bumboats, MPA will assess and license the air-conditioned bumboats to ensure they are seaworthy and safe for commuters.

The current flexible ferry schedules help the operators to maximise their resources and lower operating costs. While this is so, visitors have the alternative of chartering a bumboat for a one-way trip to suit their needs.

We thank Mr Quah for his feedback. For further feedback and suggestions, Mr Quah is welcome to contact our QSM (Quality Service Manager) Helpline on 1800-4717300.

Wong Tuan Wah
Director, Conservation National Parks Board

Capt M. Segar
Port Master Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore

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