Slow going at Marina South Pier

Slow going at Marina South Pier
TODAY: The exterior (above) and interior of Marina South Pier, which opened on April 1, 2006. The three-storey building also houses the Singapore Maritime Gallery.

It has been seven years since the iconic Clifford Pier ceased its ferry services.

But boat operators, who have since moved to Marina South, still reminisce about the good old days in the heart of the Central Business District, where business was better and life was more convenient.

Mr Chua Meng Chuan, the owner of CKL Motor Boat, believes the new pier lacks the appeal of Clifford Pier, which was renowned for its art deco facade.

''Marina South Pier is not a tourist attraction. We do not get many walk-in customers,'' said the 58-year-old, who has been in the family business for over 40 years.

He took over from his father, who was a pioneering entrepreneur when Clifford Pier, fondly referred to as Ang Teng Beh Tao (red lamp pier in Hokkien) due to the lights used to direct sea vessels, first opened in 1933.

In the early days, the bustling pier was a landing point for immigrants. It was also where goods made their way in and out of Singapore, and the departure point for tourists who wanted to visit the Southern Islands.

After a 73-year run, the pier was closed on March 31, 2006, to make way for the construction of other Marina Bay projects, such as the Barrage. The building, conserved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, has been converted into the Fullerton Bay Hotel.

On the other hand, the three-storey Marina South Pier, which opened on April 1 the same year, is a testament to modernity, with a roof built to look like waves. It houses the $5 million Singapore Maritime Gallery, which was opened last September and showcases maritime achievements in Singapore. Admission to the 1,000 sq m museum, run by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, is free.

Also moored at the pier is a riverboat modelled after the steamers which once travelled the Mississippi River in the US. The Stewords Riverboat, which used to be owned by the A&W fast-food franchise in the 1990s and was originally anchored at Sentosa, hosts two restaurants.

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