Friday, April 13, 2007

Pulau Ubin residents welcome move to re-open granite quarries on island

By Dominique Loh,
Channel NewsAsia
13 April 2007

SINGAPORE : The recent impasse with Indonesia on granite supply has led to Singapore looking for alternative sources.

An old quarry mine on Pulau Ubin will be re-opened soon, after almost a decade.

Nature has taken over the granite quarries on Pulau Ubin.

Thick vegetation now surrounds the once massive pits. And after years of rainfall, tranquil lakes now fill the empty void.

Residents said the quarries were blasted and mined as early as the 1800s.

One resident, Vincent Chew, said, "When they're going to start the explosives, they'll raise the alarm and everybody will start hiding here and there....(they are) worried about the granite flying here and there."

The quarries are not depleted of their natural resources yet.

Channel NewsAsia visited several around the island, and granite cliffs can still be seen amidst the greenery.

Pulau Ubin lies northeast of mainland Singapore.

It was once a thriving centre for granite quarrying, employing several hundreds workers.

Aerial maps show seven distinct lakes, which are also where the quarries are located.

Associate Professor Wee Tiong Huan, Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore, said, "For the one in Pulau Ubin, as far as I know, it's no problem because it's been tested the absence of granite, we can also use gravel, limestone..."

Residents said quarry operations stopped in the late 1990s.

They added that if quarry operations were revived, it would be a good thing for everyone on the island.

They also believe disruptions to their daily lives would be minimal.

Mr Chew said, "Of course they'll bring more workers into the quarry to work and we've got more business, but secondly we also worry about tourists. Once the quarries start, maybe the number of tourists will be reduced because of the explosives or something like that."

Residents hope Pulau Ubin will retain its rustic charms when quarrying resumes.

The island still attracts day trippers and nature lovers.

But over the years, more and more residents have moved out.

The village chief said the island is now home to some 60 people. - CNA/ms

No comments: