First lighthouse atop HDB block
RETIREE Kent Tiong enjoys an unobstructed view of the sea and Batam island from his breezy flat at Block 3, Marine Terrace.
The clear line of sight is why his block, 25 storeys high, is set to be the first HDB block with a lighthouse on its roof, guiding ships along the Singapore Strait.
It will replace a lighthouse on a 25-storey block of executive flats in nearby Lagoon View condominium, a curiosity in itself, given that lighthouses are typically built on the shore, rocky outcrops or buildings, and rarely on apartments.
Singapore's other lighthouses - Horsburgh, Raffles, Pulau Pisang, Sultan Shoal - are offshore.
Besides being a navigational aid, the new lighthouse will monitor shipping and maritime activities, including vessel movements in anchorage and in the strait, as well as sea sports, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said in a tender document last month.
Closed-circuit TV and electro-optic cameras, and radio communications equipment, will be installed. The lighthouse is expected to be completed in the third quarter of next year. No reason was given for the move.
Mr Tiong, 70, who has lived on the 24th storey since the block was built in 1975, wondered why it was chosen when other blocks closer to Lagoon View were not.
His neighbour, Mr Andrew Ng, 38, hoped the peace and quiet of their block will be maintained with the new landmark.
The chairman of the Marine Parade Citizens Consultative Committee, Mr Chua Ee Chek, said: "We have been reassured by MPA that the beacon which has been around in Lagoon View for the past 20 to 30 years poses no health, noise or environmental hazards to the residents."
Residents on the highest 25th storey of Lagoon View's Block 5000K told The Straits Times they have had no problems with the lighthouse on their roof.
Maritime heritage lovers like Captain Frederick Francis of the Singapore Maritime Academy hope the Bedok Lighthouse will be preserved after it is taken down.
"It's to tell people there was a time when lighthouses aided ships in navigation," he said. Mariners now rely more on the satellite-based Global Positioning System.
The Bedok Lighthouse began beaming on Aug 9, 1978. At 76m above sea level with a range of 42km, it is one of a series of lighthouses on the mainland since 1855.
The first, on Fort Canning Hill, where a replica still stands, had an elevation of 60m and was visible 30km away.
In 1958, a lighthouse on Fullerton Building took over. At 48m above sea level, it could be seen up to 44.4km away. It is now displayed at HarbourFront Towers.
In both cases, the changeover kept pace with Singapore's development, in anticipation of taller buildings being built along the waterfront, obstructing the lighthouse's sweep of light.