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The lingering impact of the Sentosa Oil spill on Waterfront F&B and yachting businesses

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • The oil spill has caused significant revenue losses and decreased footfall for waterfront F&B and yachting businesses in Sentosa.
  • Long-term cleanup efforts are underway, but recovery is expected to take months.
  • Government and community support, along with business resilience, are essential for overcoming the impact of the spill.

The serene beaches and bustling waterfronts of Sentosa, Singapore, have long been a haven for tourists and locals alike. However, the recent oil spill at Pasir Panjang Terminal has cast a dark shadow over this idyllic locale. The spill, which resulted from a collision between a dredger and a bunker vessel, has not only marred the natural beauty of the area but also wreaked havoc on local businesses.

The oil spill, which occurred on June 14, 2024, has had a profound impact on the local economy. Sentosa's beaches, including Tanjong, Siloso, and Palawan, were among the hardest hit. The spill led to the closure of these beaches, significantly reducing foot traffic and causing a sharp decline in revenue for nearby businesses.

A spokesperson for Coastes Singapore, a popular seaside restaurant at Siloso Beach, reported a staggering 60% drop in revenue over the past two weeks. "We feel the recovery time will stretch into months, given how long public perception can linger following an incident such as this," the spokesperson added.

Impact on Yachting Businesses

Yachting businesses have also been severely affected. YachtCruiseSG, a company with boats berthed at Sentosa Cove, reported losses of approximately S$3,200 in a single day due to canceled reservations. The entrance to the marina was blocked off, preventing vessels from leaving and causing significant disruptions to their operations.

Long-Term Recovery Efforts

Efforts to clean up the spill are ongoing and have entered a second phase, which involves specialized cleaning of hard-to-reach areas such as rock bunds. This process is expected to take up to three months to complete. Despite these efforts, the road to recovery for affected businesses remains uncertain.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu expressed optimism about the progress of the cleanup but acknowledged the challenges faced by local businesses. "Understandably, footfall has dropped. But glad to hear that business has picked up slightly, and operators are positive about the progress of the cleanup," she wrote on Facebook.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of the spill has also been significant. Local conservation group Marine Stewards reported sightings of marine wildlife covered in oil, including kingfishers and otters. The group is working with other organizations to facilitate the rescue and rehabilitation of affected wildlife.

Government and Community Response

The Singaporean government has deployed around 1.5km of oil-absorbent container booms near the beaches and off public park waterways at East Coast Park, West Coast Park, and Labrador Nature Reserve. The clean-up operation involves spraying dispersant chemicals to break down the surface oil into droplets to enhance biodegradation.

Approximately 1,500 volunteers have come forward to help with the clean-up, but most of the work is being carried out by contracted laborers. On Sunday, several workers could be seen on the shores of Sentosa, shoveling blackened heaps and sifting through the oily surf.

Business Resilience and Adaptation

Despite the challenges, some businesses have shown resilience and adaptability. Rumours Beach Club at Siloso, for instance, managed to maintain a relatively steady flow of customers by offering family-friendly activities and leveraging the Father’s Day weekend to attract visitors.

The oil spill at Pasir Panjang Terminal has had far-reaching consequences for waterfront F&B and yachting businesses in Singapore. While cleanup efforts are underway, the road to recovery will be long and arduous. The resilience and adaptability of local businesses, coupled with government and community support, will be crucial in overcoming this environmental disaster.

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