Singapore Maritime Week set to kick off with lighthouse visit

AS A lighthouse keeper on a tiny island, Mr Sapnan Said does not get a lot of visitors.

For the past six years, the 56-year-old has spent much of his time at the isolated spot in the Strait of Singapore with just one colleague for company.

All this will change next week when more than 400 students descend on the Raffles Lighthouse.

Their visit to the 158-year-old tower - perched on an island the size of 2-1/2 football pitches - is part of the annual Singapore Maritime Week.

Mr Lam Yi Young, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), said it was important to raise public awareness of the sector: "The maritime industry is after all an important part of Singapore's economy, contributing about 7 per cent of our gross domestic product... 90 per cent of (our) products come by sea."

The exercise could help to introduce some tertiary students to the idea of working in the field, he added.

The authority wants to increase the number of people taking part in the 25 activities on offer during Maritime Week, which starts on Sunday.

For example, about 50 fewer students visited the lighthouse - normally off-limits to the public - during last year's exercise.

The public will be able to take part in a scavenger race called the Amazing Maritime Adventure. This year, there will be 1,100 participants aiming for the $2,500 top prize, up from 800 last year.

It is also easier to catch this year's maritime exhibition, which has been put up at three locations, compared to just one in the past. Exhibits on display include models of ships, a blueprint of a bunker tanker and marine artefacts.

mariaa@sph.com.sg