Commercial-residential areas possible at future Tuas mega port

MPA chief executive Andrew Tan speaking at the 5th Singapore Maritime Institute Forum on Oct 22, 2015. PHOTO: MPA

Container ports are not usually associated with housing or community spaces the public can visit.

This could change if ideas outlined in the Next Generation Port (NGP) 2030 initiative take off.

Among them, a suggestion to include amenities and "possibly commercial-residential areas" for those working at and around Singapore's future Tuas mega port.

Plans are also under way to create more community spaces on the new port's fringes so the public can visit and better understand its operations.

All that will require more "deliberate thought" in master-planning of the port, so it " becomes a vibrant hub and not just a place where container boxes are being moved around", said Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), yesterday.

Speaking at the 5th Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) Forum, Mr Tan said NGP 2030 will also focus on harnessing new technologies to increase efficiency and productivity, as well as optimise land use at the port in Tuas.

All of Singapore's port-related activities will be moved to Tuas Terminal from 2027. When fully completed, the new port can handle 65 million standard-sized containers of cargo annually - making it the largest container terminal in the world.

Given Singapore's land constraints, one concept being explored is a two-tier terminal, which will significantly increase the yard storage capacity and quay crane productivity.

"We should not restrict ourselves to traditional port layouts," Mr Tan said.

"One of these new land-use concepts is to develop a platform above part of the container port on which port-related and industrial developments, such as container freight stations, logistic hubs and other facilities, can be developed to intensify land use."

The "above-ground space development" could also house maritime and port business activities, including potential commercial-residential areas, to form a component of the future Tuas Maritime Hub, he said.

The possibility of developing underground space for storage is also being considered. Mr Tan noted that there is potential for research and development into the use of smart technology to make Tuas port an "intelligent" facility capable of managing future marine traffic and larger ships.

It was also announced yesterday that the inaugural annual SMI Awards will be presented at next year's forum, to recognise the significant contribution of R&D in the maritime industry.

The maritime sector is a key pillar of the nation's economy, accounting for 7 per cent of Singapore's economic output and 170,000 jobs.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline Commercial-residential areas possible at future Tuas mega port. Subscribe