Govt Told Not to Resume S'pore Sand ExportsPublished by MAC on 2007-05-04
Govt Told Not to Resume S'pore Sand Exports
The Jakarta Post
4th May 2007
Representatives of the Riau Islands Maritime Education Foundation and non-governmental organizations urged the government Monday not to reopen sand exports to Singapore after the signing of an extradition treaties between the city state and Indonesia.
"The government should have made a thorough study if it wants to reopen the sand exports. Don't be in a hurry simply because the treaties have just been signed. We don't agree with this," Nada Faza Soraya, chairperson of the Maritime Education Foundation, said Monday. Nada, who is also chairperson of the Batam chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, made the remarks following widespread discussion that sand exports would be reopened after the signing of the treaties.
Sand exports were banned in February by a Trade Ministry decree issued in January. The decree is subject to reevaluation every six months.
"Reopening sand exports would only cause a loss to Indonesia, mainly in the Riau Islands, ... not only in environmental damages due to the mining activities, but also due to Singapore's reclamation works. "The lane along the Malacca Strait is getting narrower in line with the expansion of Singapore's land. As a result islands in Riau Islands province are threatened with the danger of abrasion without any effort to get rid of it," Nada said.
Similar concerns were aired by Eddy Burmansyah, an NGO activist in Batam who kept watch of sand exports to Singapore. He urged to government not to reopen sand exports, regardless of the compensation offered by Singapore.
"There is no compensation that is parallel with the destruction of the environment in Riau Islands province. Don't use our province as a political commodity," he said.
Riau Islands Governor Ismeth Abdullah said he welcomed the signing of the extradition treaties as part of efforts to help eradicate corruption in Indonesia. Ismeth said he trusted the central government to deal with the sand export issus. A commitment to preserve the environment should become a joint agreement between all parties, he said.
"With regard to granite exports, for example, the provincial administration has made a commitment with exporters to set aside part of the revenue to improve the environment," he said.
Ismeth admitted the banning of sand exports had affected greatly to overseas sales of granite. Many granite exporters had stopped their operations for fear of being arrested, he added.