Floating security barriers upset residents

Mr Alec Wing is among the Sentosa Cove residents affected by constant rattling from the chains of the floating security barriers that are being installed about 50m to 70m from the coastline.
Mr Alec Wing is among the Sentosa Cove residents affected by constant rattling from the chains of the floating security barriers that are being installed about 50m to 70m from the coastline.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
The police say that along with floating sea barriers, fences - such as the sea-based fencing near Pulau Ubin visible in the background of this photo - are critical to Singapore's security.
The police say that along with floating sea barriers, fences - such as the sea-based fencing near Pulau Ubin visible in the background of this photo - are critical to Singapore's security.

People living in Sentosa Cove say the metal chains linking the barrels raise a constant din

Residents of Sentosa Cove, many of whom paid premium prices for the sea view and peaceful surroundings of their posh homes, have described floating security barriers being installed nearby as an "eyesore" and a "design failure" because of the constant noise generated.

The buoyant blue barrels, linked by metal chains and meant to deter illegal entry into Singapore, are being installed in phases about 50m to 70m from the coastline. Work to install them began last month and is expected to be completed by March.

The barriers are part of a national plan to beef up border security.

The Ministry of Home Affairs announced in 2014 that it was putting up more physical barriers along the coastline. A total of 143km out of Singapore's 197km coastline would be protected by barricades such as floating sea barriers and fences on land and in the sea, the ministry said.

The floating sea barriers can also be seen off East Coast and Punggol.

They will span around 3km when completed off the Sentosa Cove coastline, where seven condominiums and numerous landed properties are located.

More than 100 residents turned up last Saturday for a meeting arranged by the Sentosa Cove Resort Management (SCRM) with the Police Coast Guard (PCG).

Residents complained about noise from rattling chains when waves hit the barrels, saying they had to close their windows and doors to shut out the din, but even this has not worked at times. Some spoke of sleepless nights and distress affecting their mental health.

Several were also worried about the impact on property prices in the area, which has some of the most expensive real estate in Singapore, fetching up to seven-figure sums.

 

Addressing the residents, a PCG spokesman said the noise was an "unintended consequence" of the barriers, and added that the police would engage with stakeholders to work on a solution.

Some residents were caught unawares by the installation. Mr David Robertson, 29, said he knew about it only through a letter in his mailbox, after work had already begun.

"You can hear the chains even through our glass doors, especially in stormy weather," said Mr Robertson, an equities trader whose condominium unit faces the sea. While he said he could get used to the noise, the purpose of the barriers perplexes him.

"Anyone could just as easily swim over or under it," he said.

Another Sentosa Cove resident, who wanted to be known as Mrs Rahman, 37, said she hoped a solution to the noise issue could be found.

"It's just constant noise, and because it's got such a high-pitched frequency, it can be very irritating," said Mrs Rahman, a finance manager.

"If they really need it to be there for anti-terrorism purposes, I understand, but obviously, I just want them to stop the noise," she added.

Irate residents were also frustrated with how SCRM had handled the matter, questioning why so many residents were not roped in for the initial consultations.

The police said they had consulted stakeholders like SCRM and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore between 2017 and last year to take diverse requirements into consideration.

At last Saturday's meeting, several residents proposed setting up their own committee - comprising representatives from all the condominiums and landed housing - to liaise directly with the authorities.

Long-time Sentosa Cove resident Alec Wing, the interim representative of the committee, said they planned to formalise a group to work with the authorities.


Sentosa Cove resident Mr Alec Wing looking at the visible floating sea barriers that have been installed in the sea. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

While residents appreciated the efforts to make Singapore safer for everyone, they hoped to have their perspectives taken into consideration for future solutions, said Mr Wing, an IT consultant who has lived in the area since 2006.

"We want to be part of the process to find a solution to this problem."

The police told The Straits Times the floating sea barriers, along with other physical barricades like fences, were an important part of deterrence measures, serving to deter or delay high-speed craft or illegal immigrants. The measures are critical to the security of Singapore and are proven to be effective in keeping out intruders, the police added.

The police said they would continually review their approaches in deterrence, detection and response to protect sea borders.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2020, with the headline 'Floating security barriers upset residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe