More safety measures in place as visitor numbers surge at Southern Islands, Pulau Ubin

SINGAPORE – With more visitors heading to the Southern Islands and Pulau Ubin in recent months, more safe management measures have been put in place at the Marina South Pier and Changi Point Ferry Terminals, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Thursday (Dec 24).

These include the deployment of safe distancing ambassadors to remind visitors of the need to stay sufficiently apart, setting up dedicated queue lines for areas with more traffic such as the departure waiting hall and jetty areas, as well as increasing berth usage at Marina South Pier during the weekend peak periods to cater for the increased number of ferry trips.

This would alleviate overcrowding, given the larger number of weekend passengers departing for the Southern Islands after restrictions on international travel kicked in due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

MPA also reminded people who participate in recreational activities at sea to be aware of the potential dangers such as strong waves and currents, deep drop-offs, underwater hazards and watercraft in the vicinity, noting incidents involving visitors to the Southern Islands in recent weeks.

On Dec 6, a 41-year-old man was found dead after snorkelling alone near Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. He man was reportedly with his family when they arrived on Sisters’ Islands.

Beachgoers should swim only in areas manned by lifeguards or within areas marked for swimming, said MPA.

Singapore is also in the midst of the monsoon season, which is expected to end in early March.

“Particularly from December this year to early January next year, monsoon surges are expected to cause widespread continuous moderate to heavy rain, with strong winds and choppy seas that can increase risks at sea,” said MPA, reminding all port users and members of the public to stay safe at sea during the year-end holiday season.

“At this time when many of us are looking forward to time with family and friends, we should continue to remind ourselves, our colleagues and the public to put safety first so that we remain safe, and can spend this holiday season with our close ones,” said Mr Ishak Ismail, chairman of the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council.

A number of safety measures have been put in place by the maritime sector during this period, including checks conducted by MPA inspectors on ferries to ensure that onboard fire-fighting and life-saving appliances are in good working condition.

Advisories have been sent to owners and operators of port facilities and ferries to stay alert for security threats and to ensure that ship crew are familiar with safety measures such as the location of emergency exits.

Contractors involved in marine projects such as the development of Tuas Port, as well as land reclamation at Tuas West Coast and Pulau Tekong, have been reminded to exercise due diligence to prevent workplace accidents.

“Companies are also encouraged to carry out safety time-out drills as a reminder that everyone at the worksite has a role to play to ensure that safety is not compromised,” said MPA.

The advisory from MPA comes after five workplace fatalities in two weeks over late November and early December, which prompted the labour movement to urge companies to prioritise and safeguard the safety of workers.

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