Faster, cheaper for firms to get reclaimed land in Singapore

Joyce Teo, Straits Times 4 Dec 08;

RECLAIMED land in Singapore will soon be made available to industrial companies much more quickly and cheaply.

This is thanks to a joint initiative of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and industrial landlord JTC Corp to streamline the building of shore protection.

Cutting edge analysis of wave erosion patterns will mean up to $16 million in savings for every kilometre of reclaimed shoreline. The wait for the land could be cut by up to eight months.

Currently, rock embankments costing $12.5 million per km are erected on the shoreline of newly-reclaimed land to prevent soil erosion, SLA said.

But once this land is leased to industrial tenants, they often need to spend about $5 million to tear down the embankment and erect shore protection to suit their operational needs. This is a time-consuming, costly process.

Under the SLA-JTC initiative, the impact of waves on different stretches of the coastline and reclaimed land will be analysed scientifically.

Engineers will then determine the appropriate level of shoreline protection to be put in place for three months until an industrial lessee takes over the land.

The cost of putting in and removing the new shore protection is only about 10 per cent of the one-size-fits-all rock embankment used previously.

Said SLA's assistant chief executive, Mr Simon Ong: 'This pro-enterprise initiative helps to attract investors to develop land in Singapore and enhances the economy's competitiveness.'

SLA is the gatekeeper for all land reclamation projects in Singapore.

The first test case for the new approach is the reclamation that has been done for a mega shipyard in Tuas.

For every kilometre of shoreline of land reclaimed under the new approach for the shipyard, the Government saved five months in construction time and about $11.25 million in costs. The shipyard owner saved nearly three months in construction time and about $4.5 million.

'Time is money to investors and timely availability of the land for development will affect the investors' decision of whether or not to establish in Singapore,' said Mr Ong.

As land is scarce here, many parts of Singapore's waterfront are being reclaimed for residential, commercial, recreational and industrial purposes.

JTC reclaims land for industrial purposes and then leases it to industrial firms. Waterfront industrial sites, for example, are highly sought after by shipbuilding and marine-related industries.

Mr Ong Geok Soo, JTC's assistant chief executive, said: 'At the operational level, this new procedure allows our customers to occupy the reclaimed land quickly to catch their business cycle once the land is formed without having to wait for shore protection works to be completed.' He said when investors are building a plant, JTC does shore protection work, which cuts the handover time.

There are no updated figures on the extent of land reclamation here.

A 2006 article in The Straits Times stated that Singapore's land area had grown about 17 per cent from 581.5 sq km in 1960. It said by 2030, another 50 sq km is set to be added - so the island will have expanded by a quarter altogether.