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Electric New Paper
2 Dec 06
The newly redeveloped St John's and Lazarus islands have beautiful beaches and sparkling waters
By Teh Jen Lee
SOFT, white sand. Crystal blue water. Won't it be great to enjoy this place?
Well, it is just a short boat ride from Sentosa. You are looking at photographs taken after reclamation and infrastructure works have been completed at Lazarus and St John's Island. They are part of the Southern Islands.
The reclamation project was started in 2000 to prepare the islands for further development. It's easy to see why Mrs Pamelia Lee, the managing director of the Southern Islands Development for the Sentosa Leisure Group, describes these islands as 'rare gems'.
Exactly how these gems will be set in Singapore's tourism tiara will be decided after the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launches a request for concepts, possibly in the first quarter of next year. This was announced on Tuesday by STB at the LeisureInvest Asia 2000 conference.
One idea is to develop the islands into a 'premium resort', a getaway for the rich. Other ideas include eco-tourism and cultural tourism, and even possibly a third casino in Singapore, although it is not known if STB would consider offering a casino licence to any developer of the islands.
Looking at the sparkling 800m stretch of beach at Pulau Seringat, which is now part of the extended Lazarus Island, it is clear that the islands have great potential.
Years of planning and millions of dollars have gone into preparing the islands up to this point. Reclamation, beach works and a causeway connecting St John's and Lazarus took four years and $60 million to complete. The causeway makes the islands more accessible and will help attract more visitors.
Thousands of cubic metres of sand were imported from Indonesia to make the beach. The sand was checked for sandfly eggs so that visitors will be spared the insect's bites, which can be itchy.
Another $120 million was spent to bring water, electricity, gas and telecommunication infrastructure from Sentosa to the islands.
Then came the 1,000 mature coconut trees, which were planted to add to the island feel of the place, said Mrs Lee.
However, there are currently no facilities such as toilets, showers or bins at the newly-reclaimed beaches. Whatever people need has to be brought in and they have to take all their trash out with them.
Mr Robin Goh, a spokesman for Sentosa, which manages the day-to-day operations of the Southern Islands, said: 'While the beaches are ready, the facilities are not. So if the public wants to visit, they must be prepared to be self-sufficient.' Also, as there are no lifeguards around, members of the public are advised to take extra care.
For now, the only way to get to this beach is by chartering a private boat from Marina South Pier. A boat trip to the islands takes about half an hour each way. A round-trip for up to 16 persons costs about $160.
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