Also known as the COC, the colonial building of the Customs Operations Command is located along Keppel Road, a short walk away from the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Built in 1945, the building holds many memories for Singapore’s former and current custom officers, and it is the indisputable witness of the nation’s old tax-collecting organisation that began in the early 20th century.
The Customs Operations Command building was used as the headquarters of the Customs & Excise Department in the sixties and seventies, where its Land Division oversaw the operations of the old Woodlands Customs Checkpoint and other stations such as the Lim Chu Kang Station, Changi Station, Kangkar Station and Tampines Land Station.
In addition, the Railway Parcel Office and Railway Goods Shed were managed by the department. When the Jurong Station was built in the seventies, it was also placed under its jurisdiction.
The Customs Operations Command building has three levels, where the first was mainly offices and the second and third floor used as staff quarters for the customs officers. Beside the Land Division staff, the building was also occupied by the Harbour Division employees.
The roles and responsibilities of the Land Division officers included regular checks on samsoo (a type of medicinal liquor) distilleries, duty unpaid cigarettes and illegal opium smuggling, which were rampant during the sixties.
By the eighties, the Customs Operations Command building was taken over by the Docks Division, which took care of the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) gates and vicinity, from the Trafalgar Gate to Jurong. The building was also utilised as a training school to provide courses for the customs officers.
In the nineties, the various enforcement branches from the old Customs House at Maxwell Road were consolidated at the Customs Operations Command building. The Customs & Excise Department, in 2003, was restructured as the Singapore Customs, and the building underwent a major renovation before it is being used to house the Special Investigation Branch, Suppression & Community Engagement Branch and Prosecution Branch today.
Published: 14 January 2017
Was this building also used by the Japanese before the surrender?