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Sand shipment from outside Indonesia arrives

Uma Shankari
395 words
30 January 2007
Business Times Singapore
(c) 2007 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

(SINGAPORE) The government said yesterday the first big shipment of land sand from outside Indonesia has arrived - as the search continues for new sources after Singapore's near neighbour announced a ban on sand exports.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said efforts by the Housing Board to diversify supplies of land sand paid off yesterday with the first consignment of 400,000 tonnes from a 'regional source' arriving at Jurong Port.

The shipment is expected to be the first of many, said BCA. 'The quality of the concreting sand from these sources has been tested and meets Singapore's standards and requirements,' it said. 'With these new sources, the industry can meet its immediate requirements.' The moves come as Indonesia's ban on sand exports causes slowdowns at construction sites here. Contractors say the price of land sand has risen in the past few days and supply has tightened.

Singapore has been getting almost all of its land sand from Indonesia, which says it has imposed a ban for environmental reasons and to protect its borders. Land sand is used to produce ready-mixed concrete for the construction industry. While exporters have until Feb 5 to send sand from Indonesia, shortages and slowdowns at construction sites were being seen late last week. And, as of yesterday, the price of ready-mix concrete had climbed about 30 per cent.

When the Singapore government announced on Jan 24 that Indonesia was banning exports of sand, industry players estimated that overall construction costs here could climb 3-10 per cent. Construction costs typically make up about 15-25 per cent of development costs.

BCA yesterday reiterated the government's intention to release sand it has stored. 'While opening up new sources of supply, the government will also be releasing sand from its stockpile to cushion any transitional disruption to the supply,' BCA said. 'This will help the industry to cope with the sudden announcement on sand export ban by Indonesia last week. BCA will be briefing the key stakeholders on the details of stockpile release in the next few days.'

BCA also continued to urge contractors and developers to use alternative construction methods and materials to reduce the need for concreting sand. Singapore's largest developer, CapitaLand, said yesterday its business has not been hit by higher sand costs.