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Sand 'glitch' Won't Hurt Ir Construction

3 Feb 2007 (TODAY)

Two operators say work schedules on track, Govt helping to secure supply

Lee U-Wen

THE Indonesian blanket ban on sand exports, coupled with the impending
rise in prices, is unlikely to set back the construction of the Marina Bay
Sands integrated resort (IR).

Just days before its groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, the casino
operator confirmed that its budget would not be affected, and said it
expects the Government to help it secure alternative sources of sand.

Construction work on the other IR - Genting International's Resorts World
at Sentosa - could begin as early as April if all goes according to plan.

On Friday, the Government gave its reassurance that the permanent ban on
sand is unlikely to have any long-term impact on the construction

Even as land sand is being transported to Singapore from a regional source
outside Indonesia, Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu
promised that sand would be released from the country's stockpile to
ensure sufficient amounts to go around.

She said on Friday: "The imported sand has arrived in batches and we have
seen good supply from alternative sources."

She also described the impact of sand costs on a construction project as
small "if you look at the entire project cost, including land cost".

Meanwhile, Marina Bay Sands project director John Downs said the
unexpected ban caused a four-day delay in operations last week, but this
would not have an impact on the construction schedule.

"Hopefully, this is just a temporary glitch. We don't have any extra
budget set aside at the moment specifically for sand," he told reporters
on the sidelines of the Asean Tourism Forum on Friday.

The groundbreaking will launch construction work into full swing until the
expected completion in late 2009.

The operator has already awarded a temporary construction contract to
Bachy Soletanche Singapore, and is expected to sign some piling contracts
next week.

"We've done the basic enabling works, secured the site perimeter, and done
soil investigation and test piling works. Everything is moving ahead
smoothly," said Mr Downs.

Resorts World at Sentosa, too, is largely unconcerned about the sand ban.
"We have a sufficient stockpile for now, and we are working with the
Building and Construction Authority to get more supplies," said the
operator's assistant director for communications Jackson Loy.

Meanwhile, cost-sharing arrangements are being put in place to help both
private and public construction projects. Ms Fu said the Government would
bear some of the cost of increased sand prices used in public facilities,
while the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore is in favour of
footing part of the higher bill for private developers.