NParks to be central managing agency for Pulau Ubin

Author Neil Humphreys (centre) telling children about his new book, The Hunt for the Green Boomerang.
Author Neil Humphreys (centre) telling children about his new book, The Hunt for the Green Boomerang.ST PHOTO: PRISCILLA GOY

SINGAPORE - People with queries on Pulau Ubin will be able to get responses more promptly, with the National Parks Board appointed as the new central managing agency for the island.

The island is just 10 sq km in size, but previously had 12 government agencies managing technical and land ownership aspects of the island, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Saturday (June 4).

The agencies included the National Environment Agency which was in charge of drains, and the Land Transport Authority which managed bridges.

"We've had feedback from some people that it's very confusing, that you want to do something but don't know who to approach," he said.

Members of the Friends of Ubin Network - which include historians, nature enthusiasts and Pulau Ubin residents - had proposed having one agency to holistically address concerns such as waste dumping and ageing infrastructure.

They cited coordination challenges with many agencies involved.

Mr Wong said his ministry felt the idea was feasible, and decided to appoint NParks as the central agency. It has been managing sections of the island since 1997, and has had decades of expertise in environment conservation and greenery.

Under the new model, NParks will take over the management of drainage issues and maintenance of installations such as shelters and bridges, which was previously done by other agencies.

But NParks will not take over some functions, such as the management of stray animals and Outward Bound Singapore campsites. These will remain under the purview of the respective agencies due to their expertise.

The handover of responsibilities will be done in phases and is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

Saturday also marked Ubin Day 2016, which is part of Pesta Ubin, a month-long series of events to celebrate the culture, nature and way of life on Pulau Ubin.

At the Ubin Day event, two books on the heritage and flora and fauna of the island were launched.

The Hunt for the Green Boomerang by best-selling author Neil Humphreys, and Footprints on an Island - Rediscovering Pulau Ubin by heritage enthusiast Chua Ee Kiam and NParks director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah, are available at all major bookstores.

The Pesta Ubin event series ends on June 12.

For more information, go to http://pestaubin2016.blogspot.sg