Pulau Ubin to have NParks as central managing agency

Mr Lawrence Wong (centre) with (from far left) ButterflyCircle founder Khew Sin Khoon, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee (behind) and NParks' director for Pulau Ubin Robert Teo Chee Hin on a butterfly trail on Pulau Ubin.
Mr Lawrence Wong (centre) with (from far left) ButterflyCircle founder Khew Sin Khoon, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee (behind) and NParks' director for Pulau Ubin Robert Teo Chee Hin on a butterfly trail on Pulau Ubin. Yesterday marked Ubin Day 2016, which is part of Pesta Ubin, a series of events to celebrate the culture, nature and way of life on Pulau Ubin.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Friends of Ubin Network pointed out coordination issues in earlier system managed by 12 agencies

The National Parks Board (NParks) has been appointed the central managing agency for Pulau Ubin - a move which should make it easier for those needing to report issues or make queries about the island.

The 10 sq km island previously had 12 government agencies managing technical and land ownership aspects of the island - such as the National Environment Agency in charge of its drains and the Land Transport Authority managing bridges.

Announcing the move yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at a community event on the island that some people had complained that the previous system was "very confusing".

Members of the Friends of Ubin Network - including historians, nature enthusiasts and Pulau Ubin residents - had said that the system presented coordination challenges and proposed having one agency to address concerns such as waste dumping and ageing infrastructure.

Mr Wong said his ministry felt the idea was feasible, and decided to appoint NParks.

It has been managing sections of the island since 1997 and has 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, among other things.

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

The handover of responsibilities will be carried out in phases and is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. Mr Joseph Koh, 67, a member of the Friends of Ubin Network, welcomed the appointment of NParks.

He said: "We've seen people fogging to kill mosquitoes and they should have checked with NParks where to do this. By fogging, you kill a lot of other things (in the environment). So, it's very important to have someone who oversees things and understands the sensitivity of the ecology here."

Time and taxpayers' money can also be saved when issues are coordinated under one agency, he added.

Yesterday 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.

•Pesta Ubin ends on June 12. For more information, go to http://pestaubin2016.blogspot.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 05, 2016, with the headline 'Pulau Ubin to have NParks as central managing agency'. Print Edition | Subscribe