Engineering feats at Pasir Panjang a model for Tuas

Methods used raise efficiency and reduce impact on environment

An aerial view of shipping containers stacked at the port of Singapore on Feb 14, 2012.
An aerial view of shipping containers stacked at the port of Singapore on Feb 14, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore is the world's busiest transhipment hub, with connections to 600 ports in over 120 countries. But it is not taking good fortune for granted.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is going full steam ahead with plans to expand the Republic's container-handling capacity, starting with the expansion of the Pasir Panjang Terminal in a $3.5 billion project that will be completed next year.

Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4 are being built in a way that increases efficiency and productivity while reducing environmental impact - making it a model for the upcoming Tuas Terminal, which will be fully ready from 2027.

For the innovative engineering feats involved, the development was in July voted by the public as being one of Singapore's Top 50 Engineering Achievements. The competition is organised by the Institution of Engineers to recognise engineering achievements thought to have the greatest economic, infrastructural or societal impact.

For the Pasir Panjang expansion, alternative landfill material, such as excavated earth from land construction projects, was used instead of sand for reclaiming some 198ha of land - the size of 280 football fields - off the Pasir Panjang shore.

Corals at the nearby Labrador Nature Reserve were also relocated in 2006 to the waters off the Southern Islands so they would not be smothered by land reclamation works.

  • $3.5b

    Cost of the expansion of the Pasir Panjang Terminal.

In addition, caissons - large concrete blocks - were used to build the sea wall and wharf structure instead of traditional piling methods.

The 150 caissons used are concrete, watertight, retaining structures that sit on a foundation on the seabed and fabricated on site.

Said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan: "The Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4 project provided opportunities for our engineers to test-bed innovative construction methods, all the while keeping at the top of their minds the need for sustainable development."

He added: "Many of the engineering innovations first deployed in this development are being implemented to a greater degree at the Tuas Terminal Phase 1, now in construction."

When the Pasir Panjang expansion is completed next year, it will help increase Singapore's overall container-handling capacity to 50 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year.

Singapore plans to move all its port activities to Tuas South from 2027, freeing up prime land in Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang for residential and mixed-use developments.

The Tuas Terminal will be developed in four phases over 30 years, with Phase 1 scheduled to be completed by the early 2020s.

The entire Tuas Terminal could eventually handle 65 million TEUs of cargo annually - nearly double what Singapore handled in 2014.

Mr Loh Yan Hui, deputy chief executive for infrastructure at Surbana Jurong, which the MPA consulted for the Pasir Panjang Terminal expansion, said: "We are pleased to support MPA in their efforts to strengthen Singapore's port infrastructure that will reinforce Singapore's position as a global hub."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline 'Engineering feats at Pasir Panjang a model for Tuas'. Subscribe