Navy foils sand smuggling to Singapore
Monday, July 29, 2002

Fadli, The Jakarta Post, Batam

The Navy captured over the weekend seven vessels trying to smuggle thousands of tons of sand from the Riau waters to Singapore.

Col. Adyaman, chief of the naval base on Batam Island, said the vessels, several carrying foreign flags, were arrested because they failed to show necessary documents for the sand they were carrying.

"We are still questioning the seven vessels' crew members and making an inventory of the quantity of sand inside the ships," he said, citing the case would be investigated thoroughly according to the law.

It is the first time that the Navy has been able to prevent the sand smuggling to Singapore, despite the fact that many have known of the illegal practice for years. The sand smuggling is considered a transnational crime since many international syndicates are allegedly involved. The smuggled sand was supplied to the international syndicates who later sold it to their Singaporean counterparts.

Singapore has reportedly been receiving sand both from the Riau provincial administration and the black market to carry out its reclamation project along its coastal areas.

Jakarta has taken over the authority to handle the sand export from the province since the provincial administration was either unable or unwilling to curb the sand smuggling which was believed to be backed by the local military.

Military sources have denied the allegations, but suspicions remains high.

Adyaman said the naval base deployed two warships -- the KRI Ajak and the KRI Surya -- to arrest the seven vessels.

He said the Prof. Ssgorjunn carrying Russian a flag and Korean flag carrier NV Samsung Apolo were captured in Durian waters while the TB Olivia was captured in Moro waters on the Malacca Strait.

He added that the remaining five cargo ships belonged to local businessmen and their crew members were also arrested at the naval base.

An alliance of nongovernmental organizations has urged the government to halt the sand export which they said was contributing to environmental destruction and was not benefiting locals, especially those living in coastal areas.


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