Overcrowded Singapore seeks to grow with its enormous appetite for sand
Added on: Tuesday 23 March 2010
Category: Singapore Total comments: 0
Richard Lloyd Parry Times Online
its foundation as an independent state in 1965 Singapore has had
bad-tempered relations with its neighbours — and none is larger or more
contrasting than Indonesia.
The latter is a sprawling archipelago
of 17,500 islands and 240 million people where oases of wealth exist
alongside deserts of poverty and deprivation.
The former is an affluent, educated and disciplined modern but overcrowded city state of 4.9 million.
Indonesia has oil, gas, minerals and forests, Singapore sits on a
swampy, malarial island without even enough water to supply its own
The island also has long-term plans to ease its
overcrowding by reclaiming land from the sea, and its appetite for sand
and aggregates has been immense.
Photo by Reuters
independence Singapore was 581sq km (224sq miles). Now it is 710sq km
and expanding. It gets through 1.5 billion cubic metres of dredged
silica a year. The Government has been forced to draw on its strategic
sand reserve, which Singapore hoards as other nations keep stocks of
Indonesia’s reluctance to export its own earth is about
more than environmental conscientiousness. If Indonesia loses its
islands it also risks losing the rights to the ocean surrounding them.
Island, which is suffering erosion, is only 20km (12 miles) from
Singapore. Every foot that it recedes reduces the maritime territory
that is measured from its shore.
As Indonesia’s former
intelligence chief, General Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, said: "This
could theoretically lead to a cartographic zero-sum game in which
Singapore’s gain could be at Indonesia’s territorial loss.”