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HomesingaporeMPA to review safety measures for leisure water activities off Sentosa after...

MPA to review safety measures for leisure water activities off Sentosa after kayaker’s death in Oct

SINGAPORE – The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will work with various parties, including community groups, to review and enhance safety measures for recreational water activities off Sentosa.

This comes after a 33-year-old woman died in October in a patch of sea off Sentosa known as the Buran Channel.

Her kayak had capsized near floating sea barriers between Sentosa and Tekukor islands.

Her death drew attention to the tricky spot, which is notorious among paddlers for the many kayaks that have capsized there, as well as the hazard posed by floating barriers in the area.

Responding to The Straits Times’ queries, MPA said in a joint statement with the police on Thursday that the floating barriers have been effective in deterring and preventing illegal intrusions.

The statement said: “In 2020, a boat had tried to enter Singapore via the Changi shoreline but was impeded and slowed by the floating barriers near Changi Naval Base.”

“This gave the police time to respond before the persons on board could flee onshore after landing.”

Three foreigners were subsequently arrested for attempting to enter Singapore illegally.

On the floating barriers off Sentosa, the statement said: “In particular, Sentosa is a high-value security target for terrorists given that the area is home to tourist attractions and hotels, and its iconic status, and offers potential for terrorists to conduct a sea-based attack.

“This was the case in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, where terrorists gained access to inland targets by insertion from the sea.”

The statement noted that the police have progressively installed floating barriers since 2014, with these barricades found along the southern coast of Sentosa, East Coast, Jurong Island, canals along Tanah Merah, Changi beach, Pasir Ris beach, Punggol Barat, Coney Island, Sembawang beach and Simpang Kiri in Sembawang.

“These measures are an important part of the police’s efforts to ensure Singapore’s safety and security,” it added.

The floating barriers deter and prevent people from illegally entering Singapore, including terrorists, and smuggling of prohibited goods like weapons and drugs.

“This is a real and persistent threat,” the statement said.

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In the last two years alone, about 40 illegal immigrants have been arrested for attempting to enter Singapore via the sea, it added.

The statement said the police routinely engage various maritime stakeholders, including the canoeing community, to seek feedback on the deployment of the floating barriers.

This includes briefing the Singapore Canoe Federation’s members about the importance of having a good understanding of the strong currents and eddies in challenging waters, such as the Buran Channel near the waters off Sentosa, and the location of water features such as the floating barriers.

Following the federation’s feedback, the police had moved some of the barriers that were off Sentosa in 2021 to provide more navigable waters for kayakers and canoeists.

The statement said more updates will be provided in due course about plans to review measures.

Additional Reporting by Sarah Koh

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