13 February 2010

Singapore accused of launching 'Sand Wars'

Sand smugglers are "making night-time raids on the picturesque sandy beaches of Indonesia and Malaysia, carving out millions of tons of coastline and leading to fears of an imminent environmental catastrophe on a swath of tropical islands" says an article in The Telegraph of the UK.
Sand barge off Pasir Ris
Sand piled on a barge off Pasir Ris.

The article says recent bans on exporting sand introduced in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam have cut off supplies and opened up a thriving smuggling trade.

"The situation has reached critical levels and the tropical islands of Nipah, the Karimun islands and many small islands off the coast of Riau are shrinking dramatically and on the brink of disappearing into the sea. The smugglers have no problem getting it into Singapore and these boats are rarely intercepted by customs boats or the navy. The supply is constant." Nur Hidayati, Greenpeace Indonesia spokesman is quoted as saying.

The article adds that "There are also concerns that the ocean's currents are being diverted around Singapore's expansion into the sea, again affecting marine wildlife."
Reclamation at Pasir Panjang port
Sand piled at a port development project at Pasir Panjang Port.

According to the article, "The Singapore government has declined to comment but corruption has been blamed for much of the trade."

Full article on the wildsingapore news blog.

Update (24 Mar): Another UK article about sand smuggling destined for Singapore: Overcrowded Singapore seeks to grow with its enormous appetite for sand Richard Lloyd Parry, Times Online 23 Mar 10;

More related news articles on the sand issue, and related posts on this blog about sand mining in Singapore and elsewhere, and about reclamation.

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