Saturday, August 04, 2007

Kekek Quarry will not be reopened yet!

Just received word that the Ministry of National Development has decided to defer the opening of Kekek Quarry in the north of Ubin. Although the government has momentarily withheld all immediate plans to extract granite from the quarry, the quarry will still be retained as a stockpile, ready for extraction and activation at any moment's notice.

MND and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) released a media statement on the following this afternoon on 4th August 2007:


Update on the granite supply situation
The Granite supply situation has improved significantly over the last one to two months. There is adequate granite supply coming in from both nearby and near distant sources in the region. As a result of this diversification of supply, there has not been any drawdown from the national stockpile from May. Prices of these materials have also moderated and stabilised.

Quarrying at Pulau Ubin
In April this year, the Government announced plans to carry out limited quarrying works at the Kekek Quarry in Pulau Ubin. Over the past few months, we have carried out preparatory works for reactivating the Kekek Quarry. These included carrying out an environmental impact study, conducting water quality tests and regulatory reviews.

Having gained useful experience and a better understanding of the process for reactivating a quarry, and as the industry is able to diversify and import adequate granite from many sources, we have decided that there is no need to commence the physical extraction of granite from the quarry for the time being.

However we are still keeping all our options open, including reactivating our own quarries if necessary. The reactivation of our local quarries remains a part of our contingency plan to ensure supply resilience of essential construction materials.

This is an absolutely wonderful piece of news to brighten up my Saturday. Perhaps this is an indication that our government is moving towards a more environmentally-sound ideology that without serious pressures, they would not choose development over our environment. In another words, they would think before they hack and rather conserve than to destroy and develop blindly for the sake of national security or economic growth. When the minister of state for MND said that they are trying to do whatever they can to prevent this from happening and that reopening the quarry was truly their last option, I suppose she actually meant it.

The skeptic amongst us would say that perhaps this was just a pragmatic decision and at the same time soothe some ruffled feathers. Or even perhaps producing is more expensive than buying. Either way, there is hope yet.

Kekek Quarry through the looking grass: taken just after the announcement to reopen quarrying in April 2007

Of course this is a delightful piece of news as the quarry and Ubin itself has escaped the fate of being a mining outpost again. However, like all things in Singapore, there is no certain fate and we should always be prepared to lose the quarry to our country's needs again.

As in all things nature conservation in Singapore, we should remember not to be complacent. Especially with change being a constant and regular feature in Ubin and every where else on this island state we live in, at any moment's notice, things which we think are here to stay may be taken away from us the next minute due to national needs.

A good example is Chek Jawa. While we are all happy that reclamation at Chek Jawa was deferred, this was only for 10 years or up till there is need for it again. It has already been 6 years since the deferment was announced and before we knew it, half our time with Chek Jawa has already flewn by! What more, whole villages were displaced to make way for reclamation at Chek Jawa and even after deferment, a piece of our history and heritage was gone already. Likewise, there has been rumours that the Thai Temple near Kekek Quarry is to relocate due to reopening of quarry. Now that quarrying has been deferred, this monkey shall go find out if the temple will really be relocated.

Chek Jawa Boardwalk amidst the beautiful coast line of Ubin

If we wish to hold on to these beautiful places like Chek Jawa, we should all show our love for for these places by visiting it, sharing it with our friends and of course, be generous with our words and tell everybody about it. What more, with the opening of the Chek Jawa Boardwalk, it has never been easier to get to know the area better.

I cannot be more happy to know that many Singaporeans enjoyed the Kekek Quarry very much and went to see it for the last time when it was announced to be reopened for mining. Now, it's here to stay for a while longer, we can once again go and enjoy its beautiful and serene landscape!

Pedal Ubin guides and participants enjoying Kekek Quarry in June 2005

1 comment:

saigonika said...

I spent a family day at Pulau Ubin last week and left the island with the feeling that it had a soul...your blog showed me how to find it, especially after watching Mr. Dennis Wong family pictures.
May I write you to answer some questions on the island?
I come from SouthAmerica and are presently living in Singapore.