A Whopping Cost to Relocate Tin Dredge

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By Jerry Francis

Just as I had expressed my fear earlier (IE93) that any plan to relocate the last of the giant tin dredge and preserve it as a heritage of the once renowned tin mining industry in the Kinta Valley will face a whopping bill.

It is now learnt that an estimate prepared by an engineering company to move the dredge to Clearwater Golf Resort, where it is being proposed for relocation, will cost a total of RM30 million. That is to dismantle the 60-year-old dredge at its present location at Batu 5, Jalan Batu Gajah-Tanjung Tualang and reassemble it at the golf resort about 12 km away.

Dismantling vs. Repair on Site

Dismantling the 5,000-ton dredge “TT5” and reassembling it at the new location will cost RM25 million while the cost of preparing the new site for relocating the dredge, transporting the various sections of the dredge, to repair and replace damaged parts, installing safety features, and as well as painting it will cost another RM5 million.

And what about the time it takes to dismantle the dredge and reassemble at the new location? According to mining experts, it will take over two years to complete.

Compared with just leaving the dredge where it is, and to repair and spruce it up, the bill will be less than five per cent of the total cost of relocating.

Having these figures in hand now, will the state chairman of tourism Dato’ Hamidah Osman still toy with the idea of relocating the tin dredge? I hope not.

Dato’ Hamidah, who was recently asked about the proposed relocation, claimed that she is yet to study the report from the consultant.

Create a Living Monument Instead

Let us assume the RM30 million could be made available, will it be worth spending just on the relocation?  Imagine how we can use that amount of money to induce development around the area where the dredge is located.

In fact, there is a lot of land available at the site to turn into a living monument of the tin mining industry and call it “Kinta Tin Mining Village”. Replicas of the other mining methods, such as open-cast mine and palong, could be built around it with the dredge as the centrepiece.

Thus, a new tourist resort could be created and bring economic development to the once tin mining region. It will boost the economy of the locals, who could get the opportunities to set up restaurants, souvenirs’ shops and other business activities.

I share the views of many others that the dredge is left at its current location and be repaired and spruced up as a unique tourist attraction in the Silver State. It is ideally located along the main road and already has some basic infrastructure constructed by the Kinta District Council at the cost of RM600,000. There are lighted parking bays, an office building, and a concrete path around the dredge.

I don’t think merely exhibiting equipments and photographs will have a desired impact as a heritage of the tin mining industry. It takes an actual relic to have an impact.

Preservation Body Needed

We could learn from abroad how many historical and heritage relics are being successfully preserved and maintained by various non-profit organizations, particularly in Europe.

It would not be a waste of money if we could similarly set up an organisation which is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the tin mining industry, to manage and maintain the dredge. It has to be funded through an annual grant from the federal or state government and donations from various foundations.

Certainly, an entrance fee needs to be charged to meet some of the maintenance cost, but it must not be exorbitant. Presently, the dredge is being looked after by Osborne & Chappel Sdn Bhd, which had spent about RM300,000 on maintenance.

No matter how good a tourist attraction is, it needs to be promoted aggressively to be successful.

I have visited a few well known tourists’ attractions abroad, travelling for hours to the sites, only to realise that we have better attractions back home, the difference being the fact that ours are not promoted as aggressively as theirs.

Make Kinta Valley a Unique Destination

Of course our last tin dredge on its own may not have enough magnetic pull to make the Kinta Valley a tourists’ destination, but incorporated with other attractions it could be a unique destination.

A package tour could include visits to the fascinating limestone hills and cave temples around Ipoh, old mining towns such as Papan, Terrapins’ hatchery at nearby Bota Kanan, Pasir Salak Historical Complex and the taste of the various gourmet foods, including the Udang Galah (freshwater lobster) at Tanjung Tualang.

Such a tour when aggressively promoted, will certainly bring in a steady flow of local and foreign tourists to this once largest alluvial tin mining region in the world, which at this moment loses out to Kuala Lumpur and Penang in tourist appeal.

Tourists everywhere have enough of skyscrapers, shopping complexes or even beaches and are ripe and ready for some unique experiences. This is where the Kinta Valley needs to offer and create a niche for itself and start to be competitive to other destinations in the country.

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10 thoughts on “A Whopping Cost to Relocate Tin Dredge

  1. The Kinta Valley has huge potential for tourist development. The minning village idea was excellent. Just like the old Australian gold mine concept. Tourists can visit and try their hands on ‘mining’ tin ore using mendulang or ‘working’ at the palong. It will really be a lot more interesting. Have a selangor pewter outlet and small factory there as well to show the tourists how pewters are made. It would be a true first and one and only tin mining museum in the WORLD! Let us save TT5 and let us not lose this chance of a lifetime.

  2. Perak needs to make a long term commitment to preserving this Tin Dredge. Tourism just can’t grow over night. With more well thought-out projects like these, Tourism will improve, and it will be a great revenue generator for the state. Thanks to J.Francis for starting the dialogue.

  3. The most important consideration is that the restoration of the tin dredge must be done properly to make sure that it is structurally sound for tourists to set foot on it. If there is any lingering doubts about its safety, visitors will be driven away in droves and that will tarnish the long-term image of the local tourist industry. God forbid, if mishaps do happen, the liability issue alone will sink the whole project.

    Marketing the project as a package deal that also highlight and promote the other attractions within Kinta Valley sounds like an interesting proposition. The exhibits should provide a hands-on and interactive experience to visitors in order to sustain their interest. Programs must be thoughtfully planned to be educational, informative as well as entertaining so that visitors will find it enjoyable enough to warrant repeat visits.

    To draw parallel to the tin dredge restoration project, allow me to mention the plight of the German U-505 submarine which was captured by the USS Chatelain on June 4th – 1944, off the coast of West Africa. For 50 years this exhibit was wasting away on the grounds of Chicago’s massive Museum of Science and Industry. Exposure to alternate thawing and freezing that was brought about by the harsh Midwestern winter has ravaged this battle-weary sructure. If nothing is done, it may not be able to accomodate the hordes of tourists that come to take a peek at the rusting vessel. In 1997, the museum embarked on a very ambitious program to restore and conserve this prized relic from the 2nd World War. Parts like ribs, brackets and stringers were re-fabricated and reinforcements were painstakingly installed from ballasts to tanks. From planning to completion, it took almost seven years before this submarine was restored to its former glory. By June 2005, the only German submarine in the US, which is almost a city-block in length and weighs about 3 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty was housed in its new in-door home. This facility is 42-feet deep and its climate-controlled environment ensures that the submarine’s longevity is preserved indefinitely. The U-505 restoration project costs in excess of a staggering US$25 million and it underscored the importance of structural soundness in relation to public safety. It also proves that a well-executed conservation job is a step in the right direction to prolong the lifespan of historical relics.

    Relistically speaking, there is no need to emulate the Americans in launching an overly extravagant project to salvage the tin-dredge.
    However, a concerted effort to give the tin dredge a new lease in life would transform it into a self-suataining venture that will be around for a while for future generations to see.

  4. Moving it to clear water would only eventually make it go to a complete death. Have you seen what has happened to Anna and The King set which was built so elaborately and it was so grand and beautiful. Go see it now and you wont believe what ruins it is in. I saw it again over the weekend and was so sad, the whole area looks like a dump site, as of which i quickly drove over to tanjung tuallang and to see for myself the great kapal korek. It needs to stay where it is and the whole area to be developed into what could be the only tin mining tourist venue in the world. Put the money to better use,dont dismantle it,as it will only die off permanently. Perak needs many niche tourist attractions here. And the kapal korek and a tin mining village resort would really put us back on the tourist map.

    Jerry

  5. Thank you for your positive approach which mine was also meant to be, even if it did not appear that way. I respond:

    As I understand it from the original article, the RM30million was a formal quotation from an engineering organisation who know the dredge well. This was split as shown in the article.

    However I believe that the 1.5% was an arbitrary guess by a non engineer and not based on an engineering survey of any sort.

    I also understand that some 4 or 5 years ago (yes the problem has been with us that long) qualified and experienced professionals raised a report that indicated that the cost of putting the dredge into a suitable tourism state would be RM3million plus.

    Now, with no updated study available today which provides the cost of bringing the dredge up to a safe tourism standard at its present site, one must base our thoughts on whatever is available. Certainly the RM3million estimate of 4 years ago will have escalated.

    Secondly as a naval engineer who has worked with ships from age 16 to 60, including designing and building them, I do understand a little about such things and a walk from top to bottom, from bow to stern on all 5 decks makes the position quite clear to me. The dredge is in an advanced state of deterioration and will need more to upgrade it than the suggested 5%. I am sure of that.

    So the point of my earlier comment was to support the idea of a Tin Mining Complex on the present Dredge site, but at the same time to prevent people raising false hopes that it can be done cheaply. It can not!

    I hope that clarifies my position.

  6. It always saddened me to hear people giving a negative views of any proposal even before a through viability study could be carried out. I wonder anyone of those critics has carried out structural study of TT5 before they shoot down the proposal?
    Why don,t Osborne & Chappel Sdn Bhd or a consultant come out with a completed report, before we put to rest this debate?
    I am sure the engineering firm, which offers to restore the dredge had made a study before coming up with a cost of about RM1.5 million.
    If it actually cost that much,why not we go ahead. Remember million of ringgits could be spent and wasted in Belum,why not on this heritage relic?

  7. I concur with Ian on all points. In order to refurbish her and to make it SAFE, 5% of 30m (i.e. 1.5m) wouldn’t even scrape the barrel.

    The hulk in current condition is rusted to the very core and no amount of shoring can make it safe. It’s literally falling apart. In order to totally make her 99% safe and sturdy for the next century years or more, would require nothing less than a total refit, with suitable and new materials in many places.

    My favourite old ship is the barque (a type of sailing ship) SS Rickmers Rickmers built 1896, now 100% restored and on display in Hamburg. You can read about her history and restoration efforts in

    http://www.rickmer-rickmers.de/index.php?id=185

    This site mentions that to repair the ship, it took 4 years, many millions of marks and A LOT OF COURAGE (capitals mine) to restore the ship…. and might I add in a VERY SAFE condition.

    Today the ship looks like it was just built right out of the builder’s yard. You could probably still smell the fresh paint. This ship is part of Hamburg’s colourful hisotry and I also wish the same for TT No 5 with respect to Perak.

  8. While I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of a Tin Mining Heritage Centre based on the area that surrounds the dredge I am afraid I cannot agree with the concept that a “spruce up” of the dredge is acceptable. It is not!

    The dredge is in an unsafe state, not only with it listing or sinking, but the corrosion through the entire 5 deck levels which, coupled with a lack of guardrails and other safety features make the unit entirely unacceptable for tourism in the foreseeable future.

    Consequently, as a naval engineer of 30 years experience I believe the suggested 5% of the RM30 million (i.e. RM1.5 million) is a gross understatement of the real cost.

    Now of course, we could do it the easy (Malaysian!) way and do a shoddy job while forgetting long term safety and sustainability, as is so often the case, but that would be nothing short of stupid.

    For those who are comparing this to other magnificent relics overseas like HMS Belfast in London, then please recognise that these relics cost a fortune every year to maintain. Adult entrance fee to Belfast is GBP12.95 ((say RM70) per person, but the restricted areas you are allowed to visit are very safe. According to the website the ship receives “tens of thousands of visitors interested in the maritime history of the British Commonwealth”. How many do we expect to visit the dredge and how much will they pay?

    Having started this diatribe in favour of the proposal, I end by remaining in favour, but only if a professional, safe and long term solution can be put in hand and paid for.

  9. Why bother going through all the hassle to save a rusting and rotting hulk. Building a replica without the engine and moving machinery would be cheaper and tourists won’t know the difference.

  10. Whopping RM 30 million for relocation. What is happening? Though it could be Federal funded but I think that amount of money could be put to better use. Spruce up the dredge and keep it intact, is good enough. The current surrounding infrastructure is excellent. Please, those involved think and rethink.

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