Owners of illegal jetties given reprieve

Floating platforms at Seletar need not be removed if they get engineers to certify safety
Jose Hong Straits Times 30 Mar 12;

BOAT and jetty owners at Seletar, who were told by the authorities to remove the illegal structures they had built there over the years, have been given a reprieve of sorts.

There are at least three jetties in the area which were illegally built. Their owners were told earlier this month that they had to be removed.

At a meeting the authorities held on Wednesday, the craft owners agreed to work with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on these floating platforms, including getting professional engineer certification.

The Singapore Land Authority, in a joint statement with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore after Wednesday's meeting

It is understood that the jetties need not be removed if engineers can certify that they are safe.

While plans for the area are being finalised, the jetties can still operate, so long as no new ones are built or existing ones extended.

Currently, fishing equipment is also being stored on illegal structures that float in the sea.

Although these structures have to be dismantled, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is prepared to provide more space on the shore to store the equipment, if the jetty owners apply for it.

'Going forward, SLA is prepared to enlarge the approved land area to accommodate the craft owners' needs,' the SLA said in a joint statement with MPA after the meeting.

The area in question is off the eastern corner of the Lower Seletar Reservoir Dam where several wooden jetties and structures, built over the years, extend from the mangroves into the sea.

The Straits Times reported earlier this week that the authorities had told the jetty owners that the structures were illegal and had to be removed as they pose a safety hazard.

They also stressed that individuals cannot simply lay claim to state land for their private use.

In the joint statement, the SLA and MPA said that while the craft owners can continue to engage in their activities, they should not use state property illegally, and the authorities will work closely with them to resolve their issues.

The statement also explained that since 1993, part of the Seletar coastal area had been approved as mooring bases for sea craft.

The SLA had originally issued three temporary occupation licences (TOL) to the representatives of the craft owners for the use of state land, including the storage of fishing equipment within the TOL boundary. However, approval was not given for the makeshift jetties and structures outside the TOL boundary, which 'lack professional certification and pose safety hazards'.

Earlier this week before Wednesday's meeting, one of the jetty owners said he was aware that the authorities wanted the structures to be certified safe by a professional engineer.

But, he added, he could not afford to hire a professional engineer to certify the structure, or carry through any recommendations.

None of the jetty owners could be reached for comment yesterday.