Last year, five of my students and an ICCS Organiser were issued a “stern warning” for trespassing on state land at Tanah Merah – you can read about it here. These signs certainly caught us by surprised as ITE College West (School of Engineering) and Nanyang Girls’ Boarding School had worked at Tanah Merah 7 for ICCS 2013 the previous week without incident.
These new signs are different from all others which have previously marked State Land – they promise that “Trespassers will be arrested”. And indeed several people have been served notice since.
In response to queries about the incident, Singapore Police Force (SPF), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) met to discuss a response. And thereafter, SLA offered to liase with SPF on behalf of ICCS for access to restricted State Land sites. We provided SLA a list of all sites at which our volunteers conduct coastal cleanups early this year and all was ready.
In the past couple of weeks, as we conducted recce trips, we put the mechanism to work. Informing SLA, they have relayed our requests to SPF who have granted us access each time. It has been a smooth process although it has put an end to spontaneous trips.
New signs at Lim Chu Kang
Ground recces reveal just two more of our current sites are affected by the new signs in addition to Tanah Merah 7, namely Lim Chu Kang and Lim Chu Kang East – for now. For the upcoming international ICCS event in September, Zone Captains for these areas (Adriane Lee for North-West and Hannah Leong for Tanah Merah) will provide a Point of Contact to SPF via SLA and will have Organisers prepare a nominal list of volunteers complete with NRIC (or FIN) numbers.
Whatever the challenges SPF is facing along our coasts, this procedure ensures volunteer coastal cleanups along our shores are able to continue their fight against marine trash.
This Saturday, for the seventh year, I am organising a National Day mangrove cleanup at Lim Chu Kang. Permission has already been provided by SPF via SLA and I have nominal roll of volunteers against which we will take attendance – a quick exercise after which we return to the business of tackling marine trash, a loving gesture by a group of people in celebration of National Day.
Thanks to NEA, SPF and SLA for all the help!