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Port operations won’t affect lighthouse: MPA

Friday, 16 July 2021 | 00:00

The 126-year-old Sultan Shoal Lighthouse, about 150m from Tuas Port’s Phase 2 development, will not be affected by port operations when they begin in the late 2020s, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has confirmed.

Reclamation works for Phase 2 of the port, which began in July 2019, are expected to be completed around 2027, an MPA spokesman told The Straits Times on Monday, adding that “the lighthouse is an important part of Singapore’s maritime heritage”.

The lighthouse will remain operational when Phase 2 of the port begins operations, and ships will not traverse the 150m-wide channel between the Phase 2 site and Sultan Shoal, he added.

Built in 1895, the lighthouse is located between the upcoming Tuas Port and Jurong Island. Reclamation in the waters surrounding the lighthouse have brought land – like Jurong Island – closer to Sultan Shoal, wrote heritage author and blogger Jerome Lim in a blog post last Saturday.

Referring to the construction for Tuas Port Phase 2, Mr Lim wrote: “On the evidence of the extent of reclamation work, it does look like that Sultan Shoal Lighthouse, having played a key role in the development of Singapore’s port for over a century, may no longer be relevant to the port it has nurtured.

“The port has certainly grown too big for the lighthouse and what the future now holds for it and the expanded shoal that it rests on, is anybody’s guess.”

Mr Lim told ST yesterday that he welcomed MPA’s assurance that port operations will not affect the lighthouse.

The former naval architect said the lighthouse has served as an important aid for navigation, “keeping shipping operations safe through the narrow and rather treacherous western entrance to (Singapore) for more than a century”.

MPA’s assurance on the lighthouse’s future comes amid heightened interest in Singapore’s maritime heritage, following the National Heritage Board’s (NHB) announcement on June 16 that two historical shipwrecks had been salvaged in Singapore waters, near Pedra Branca.

Between June 24 and last Saturday, ST published six forum letters on the topic, with most of the writers suggesting more could be done to promote maritime heritage here.

In particular, Mr Kuet Ee Yoon, co-founder of the Singapore Maritime Heritage Interest Group, suggested that two other lighthouses belonging to Singapore – both more than a century old – should be nominated for inscription in the Unesco World Heritage List.

The two are the oldest lighthouses here – Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca began operations in 1851 and Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu in 1855.

In response, the director of NHB’s preservation of sites and monuments division, Ms Jean Wee, and MPA’s chief hydrographer Thai Low Ying-Huang said in a letter published today that there are currently no plans to nominate the lighthouses – including the one on Sultan Shoal – as Unesco world heritage sites.

They added that MPA has made efforts to safeguard the lighthouses as part of Singapore’s maritime heritage, including keeping the structures in their original state, and retaining the lighthouse equipment that have been superseded by technology over the years.

Asked if it was working with other agencies to conserve the lighthouses, a spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore’s conservation authority, said it is “working with agencies to study ways to better recognise the heritage value of lighthouses”.

On July 5, the Government announced that works to improve facilities on Pedra Branca were expected to start by the end of this year. The works will also include land reclamation of about 7ha.

Mr Thai Low and Ms Wee wrote: “MPA and NHB will continue to explore how our maritime heritage as exemplified by these lighthouses can be better shared with the public.”
Source: Straits Times

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