Punggol is a site full of surprises. There are development plans for Punggol and construction works have been conducted along the coast of Punggol beach for quite some time — we are faced with the uncertainty that they might cordon off a certain part of the beach to facilitate their construction during the cleanup. As a result, as with every other shoreline in Singapore, we are careful to check each site and last August, I went for a recce with Pei Hwa Secondary School’s Organiser.
On the morning of the ICC Singapore cleanup, the site had not changed much– the Police Coast Guard were still sipping their kopi and reading the newspaper when ICCS participants at this site, Secondary 1 students from Pei Hwa Secondary School, trudged in and began working under the sweltering hot sun.
The coast was actually rather clean and there was not a significant amount of trash. When I asked them what was the most peculiar item found, the participants were split between the oil drum and a shuttercock. Puzzled, I asked them “why shuttlecock?”A few of them responded ‘weird to play on the beach’, while one cleverly pointed out that it might be a recreational activity for the construction workers!
55' Gal Drum
When asked about the cleanup, one participant Fatin, said “(I felt that) the litter which Singaporean left behind on the beach is quite saddening, as it may affect the marine animals and if it continues, there would not be any marine animals left in Singapore.”
It was heartening to see each and every one of the students putting in an effort for the cleanup. And if all of them grasped the issue as a result of their experience as Fatin did, the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore is certainly achieving much more than the collection of data for the marine debris index.
The whole team!
Cheong Wei Siong
Deputy Zone Captain,
ICCS Northeast Zone
The day after the ICCS Site Buddy Briefing, Ng Kai Scene and I met up with the ICCS Organiser of Pei Hwa Secondary School, ONG Yong Hui, for a recce at their site at Punggol Beach on what was to be a wet morning.
At 8am At Punggol Road-end , the Police Coast Guard were sipping their kopi and reading the Sunday morning newspaper when we trudged in. The site had changed yet again! Different parts of the beach were cordoned off for construction work in support of Punggol but thankfully, our usual entry and exit points were unaffected.
The three of us strolled the entire stretch of the soggy beach while discussing operational matters, logistics, school work and kopi!
The trash load remains low, with a significant amount of plastic stuck in between the rocks. We noticed a fair bit of cigarette butts along the coastline. Yong Hui commented that Punggol beach is a much cleaner and safer site than Pulau Ubin, having been a participant there last year – which is good news for him as he leads a large group of students here this year.
We ended the recce about an hour later, drenched and I brought home a memento of out visit – a deep fingernail mark on my left hand, thanks to Kai Scene’s strong grip when we re-entered the site through a rocky entry point.
With the Organiser prepared, we now feel confident about the cleanup at Punggol Beach.
Choppy sea. Gloomy sky.
This didn’t deter the 22 volunteers from Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple. They tackled Punggol Beach with zest and enthusiasm. The trash load was light; the source of the debris was mainly from shoreline and waterway activities.
Zeng Rong, the organiser, did a great job by briefing the volunteers on the objectives of the cleanup and the method of collecting data, before heading out to the beach. Thus, everyone knew what to do and the cleanup went smoothly.
Although the trash load was light, there were many small items such as fragmented debris like styrofoam bits , bottle caps and and fishing lines.
However, it showered on participants at about 10.15am, an hour after the cleanup had begun. So they ended a little earlier and began weighing the trash. ZengRong did a debrief , took group pictures and ended the cleanup .
The cheery spirit I witnessed was admirable. A great job by both the volunteers and the organiser, well done folks!
The cause? 47 volunteers from Queensway Secondary School. Total estimated weight of trash collected = 193kg.
The volunteers were from uniformed groups — Girl Guides, National Cadet Corps and National Police Cadet Corps. The volunteers started at 9.30am, tough and efficient they were, they combed the beach and finished the cleanup in less than 1.5hours.
Doing a cleanup in Punggol is never about brute force. The Punggol shoreline is littered with rocks covered with barnacles and most of the marine debris is trapped in between the rocks. Huge amount of effort and energy is needed to dislodge or remove them.
Five secondary-3 girl guides were appointed as Site Buddies for the cleanup. They were involved in helping the teachers-in-charge oversee the site, and consolidation of data – they did a great job!
After taking group photos, and a debrief by their teacher-in-charge, Miss Latifah, the cleanup ended with a loud cheer.
Cheers for Queensway, cheers for organisers, and cheers for the volunteers!
This year, 240 enthuastic students from Sembawang Secondary School
tackled this man-made beach – they were so excited that they almost
forgot to record the data!
Armed with their own household plastic bags, they hunted high and low among the rocks to fill their bags. At the end of the hour, they removed every plastic bag and bottles. And the main item of the 216kg worth of trash collected at Punggol this morning, styrofoam topped the list!
Thanks to Sembawang Secondary School. They came, collected and left a clean beach behind!
Lim Chen Kee
North East Zone Coordinator
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Posted by email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (posterous)