Super short secret airstrip you can only spot on Google Maps
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Super short secret airstrip you can only spot on Google Maps

Pulau Sudong: Fishing village of 400 folks turned armed forces zone

This piece is aspect of MS Explains, a phase where by we provide clarity to typical or vital topics, producing them much easier to digest.

When 1 pulls up a map of Singapore, the diamond-shape of the mainland island usually takes up most of the display screen.

But, past the southern tip of the most important island, there are specks of modest land masses that dot the horizon off West Coast seashore and the preferred tourist spot of Sentosa.

Amid them, a person little island stands out with what appears to be a 2.5km-lengthy airstrip, visible by way of satellite imaging: Sudong Island, or Pulau Sudong.

Supply: Google Maps

The identify of the island came from the condition of its surrounding reef, which resembles a tudung it bears the exact meaning as Sudong a scarf that is used as a cover.

It formerly housed a village of practically 400 inhabitants ahead of the Singapore Govt reclaimed it for even further growth in the 1970s.

Even so, ideas to change the island into a vacation resort fell through and it turned a navy are living-firing zone in the 1980s.

This was the standing quo until eventually January 2024 when authorities unveiled new options to reclaim more land to expand the existing airstrip.

Pulau Sudong housed practically 400 inhabitants, experienced vibrant local community

Properties created on stilts over the drinking water, no streets, or flush bogs in sight.

This was Pulau Sudong in the 1960s and even up to the 1970s, in accordance to a report by the New Nation from that time.

Because the 1940s, Pulau Sudong was under the jurisdiction of the Singapore Rural Board (SRB).

The island was dwelling to all over 390 inhabitants in the 1960s, in which many of its inhabitants, typically Malay, produced a living by fishing.

These islanders lived a simple lifetime, though once a yr, Pulau Sudong citizens seemed forward to a lively sports satisfy acknowledged as Pesta 5 S.

Resource: Countrywide Archives of Singapore

For the duration of this celebration, Pulau Sudong also hosted the people of Pulau Semakau, Sakijang Bendera (now St Johns Island), Pulau Seking, and Pulau Seraya.

The sporting activities satisfy, which included video games this kind of as tug-of-war and soccer, as very well as h2o sports, took spot all the way until finally the afterwards 50 percent of the 1970s.

For the adult men, you have the races with their jongs or their boats, recalled Mdm Halimah Daud, a previous resident of Pulau Sudong from 1960 to 1977.

On land, there will be many women of all ages with online games these types of as arranging or looking for images.

Other video games include things like hunting for a sweet in flour or placing a thread through a needle, she extra.

Islanders make room for enhancement

By the mid 1970s, citizens of the island have been struggling with pressures to modernise.

Immediately after all, there had been huge-scale developments going on on mainland Singapore, most apparent in the housing tasks.

Resource: Nationwide Archives of Singapore

Minister for Social Affairs at the time, Mr Othman Wok, urged the island local community to prepare for alter.

We will have to alongside one another master to regulate to the modifications and establish our setting to acquire edge of modernisation and know-how, he explained in the course of the 1975 Pesta 5 S at Pulau Sudong.

Societies like ours should be powerful in social willpower. We need to know what our collective interests are and what changes we should make to the altering conditions.

Significantly less than a year right after this speech, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) introduced ideas to reclaim Pulau Sudong and the nearby Pulau Biola for advancement initiatives by the Sentosa Growth Company (SDC).

Options to transform the island into a vacation resort

Whether or not the islanders realized it or not, Pulau Sudong experienced previously been earmarked for industrial progress, reported ST in 1976.

On the other hand, the island was then deemed unsuitable for whichever Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) experienced prepared consequently the pivot to leisure advancement.

In Oct 1976, the PSA awarded contracts to organizations Toa Harbour and Swee Building for reclamation and shore safety initiatives on Pulau Sudong respectively.

The target was to develop two lagoon beaches on the island, turning them into island resorts.

Reclamation operates introduced two months later, but there ended up no concrete plans to comply with-up on acquiring the land into recreational sights.

The reclamation operates in the 1970s had expanded Pulau Sudong by about 242.82 hectares, claimed ST.

Pulau Sudong joins two other islands for armed service use in 1980s

Inside the next 10 years or so, Pulau Sudong would enter its military services era.

A report from 1982 introduced that the island was quickly closed to the general public thanks to are living-firing routines by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) on nearby Pulau Senang.

The SAF officially gazetted Pulau Sudong as one particular of its formal stay-firing areas in 1989, together with Pulau Pawai and Pulau Senang.

Sooner or later, Pulau Sudong experienced a armed forces runway that spanned the size of the island.

Even though official studies of the airstrip are couple of and considerably involving, The Enterprise Situations claimed in 1994 that L&M, a expert building firm, received an award that year for its get the job done on an airport runway in Pulau Sudong.

Pulau Sudong, Pulau Senang, and Pulau Pawai have been utilized for armed service reasons ever given that the 1980s.

These islands [Pulau Sudong, Pulau Pawai, and Pulau Senang] give for emergency recovery for RSAF plane, air-to-ground firing, as perfectly as demolition activities, stated Mike Lim of the OIC Assistance Services Section in an RSAF clip.

As it turns out, Pulau Sudong is also used for the duration of Singapore’s National Working day celebrations — especially throughout the preparations for the Singapore flag fly-past.

Supply: MINDEF

The Republic of Singapore Air Power (RSAF) proceeds to conduct stay-firing exercises at the Southern Islands Stay Firing Vary.

In April 2023, the SAF also suggested the public to hold distinct of Pulau Sudong and the other islands thanks to demolition activities, on top of live-firing.

Some loud noises may perhaps be predicted, stated the advisory.

Existing army airstrip to be expanded commencing 2024

So, what is the present status of Pulau Sudong and its airstrip?

In January 2024, the Housing and Advancement Board (HDB) declared ideas to reclaim additional land all over the island.

Source: Task Island Country

ST documented that HDB will reclaim around 31.1 hectares of land equal to 43 football fields on the japanese stop of the island in 2024, in order to extend the present runway for army aircraft.

At existing, the airstrip is a bit fewer than 2.5km long. In comparison, Changi Airport’s two runways evaluate 4km every single.

The up grade will enhance flight protection on Pulau Sudong’s crisis airstrip, specially throughout negative temperature, HDB instructed ST.

To mitigate the environmental impression of the reclamation on the bordering coral reefs, seagrass habitats, and mangrove forests, the related authorities will relocate the exceptional and susceptible species on the island.

Also, HDB mentioned on 26 Jan that there will be will work to restore the habitat once the reclamations are finish by 2028.

Also study: Pulau Senang: Spores prison island experiment that went up in flames

Pulau Senang: Spores jail island experiment that went up in flames

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Showcased picture adapted from Google Maps and Challenge Island Nation.

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