SINGAPORE: The rustic jetty located at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road is one of the last remaining wooden jetties in Singapore, but its days may be numbered.
A new S$6 million jetty for fish farmers is set to be built just a few hundred metres west by September 2020.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told Channel NewsAsia that the proposed 4,000 sqm project is meant to ease operations for fish farmers, who have raised concerns about the limited space for loading and unloading.
Currently, more than 50 coastal fish farmers dock at the jetty to load and unload live seafood and other cargo every day.
According to fish farmers Channels NewsAsia spoke to, finding a spot to dock could take up to two hours during peak periods in the early mornings and evenings, compared to about 15 minutes during non-peak hours. The wait sometimes leads to quarrels among the farmers.
Mr Yeo King Kwee, a fish farmer of over 20 years, said: “When we are moving live fishes, time is really short. We have to get the fishes to the restaurants before they’re all dead … We have to queue and waste our time. That’s not good, wasting time at the hot jetty.”
The lack of facilities like a shelter as well as taps and toilets also makes working conditions tougher. It is an issue fish farmers hope can be addressed at the new jetty.
“We need water to wash, clean, cook, bathe … the current situation is that we’re all using rainwater,” Mr Yeo said.
The jetty, which is about 30 years old, hasn’t weathered the elements well either – and this poses safety concerns.
Some of the jetty’s wooden planks are broken, and although the farmers have mended them using material cut out from plastic barrels, they say this hasn’t stopped accidents from happening, especially when the workers are carrying heavy loads.
Fish farmer Edwin Tan said: "When it’s very low tide, the land on the right is higher than on the left, so the jetty will tilt to one side.”
“When we unload our fish, it weighs over 50kg per bucket and we have two buckets per trip. Because of the slope, the workers plus the fish have fallen into the sea many times, and the workers also get injured. During the rainy season, it gets worse.”
And it’s even harder at night, when the fish farmers have to tread a fine line between safety and getting their stock out on time.
Agreeing, Mr Yeo said: “At the current moment, there are no lighting facilities. And when it’s dark, it’s very dangerous. We try to avoid night loading, but during wee hours at around 3am, we have to start loading our goods for the market.”
Other features the fish farmers hope to see include an access point for petrol, which is necessary to keep their boats and trucks running, as well as a designated space to park them when they are not in use.
AVA has called for an Expression of Interest for consultants to look into the design and construction of the new jetty.
In response to queries, AVA said details have not been finalised and that it will continue to engage fish farmers on the matter. This includes setting up a working group with the farmers to discuss potential solutions and develop its design proposal.
It added that the fish farmers will continue to use the existing jetty until the new site is ready.
Construction is targeted to begin by September next year.