Tuesday, September 23, 2008

High-Rise Littering On The Increase In Singapore

According to data provided by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore saw a 12 per cent increase in the number of complaints of high—rise littering from January to June this year, compared to the same time period last year.

Mayor of North West District, Dr Teo Ho Pin, cites "Education" as the solution to stopping this anti—social behaviour.

Contrary to opinions expressed on many online forums and blog aggregators, Dr Teo also went on to say that it is not fair to try and blame the problem on foreign workers. He said, "this problem has been around for very long since we live in high—rise blocks and our experience in Town Councils is that the majority of the culprits are Singaporeans".

Dr Teo suggested that placing cameras may help reduce the problem but it does not solve the root of the problem. "The more substantial solution is through school education and public education and intervention. NEA officers can go round and catch offenders. A combination of hard and soft approach will be the best".

Some of the recent complainants include a 53-year old housewife, who wishes to remain anonymous. She says her family has had to endure the stench of soiled nappies thrown by their neighbours. She started noticing the dirty diapers outside her master bedroom two years ago.

This is the first time that her family has encountered such a problem, after having lived in Marsiling for 15-years. The suspected offenders are a family on the seventh floor that moved in three years ago.

The housewife said, "Every time the lady changes the diapers of her son, she will throw them down. The soiled diapers will drop outside the window of our master bedroom. When we open our windows, the stench is unbearable. Sometimes there will be flies because of the faeces. The littering has worsened".

According to the NEA data, the most common items that are thrown are cigarette butts, tissue paper and fruit seeds. More 'extreme' trash, includes sanitary pads, wound dressings and bags of urine or faeces.

In the effort of education, Jurong Town Council officers often visit households to advise residents on high—rise littering. When faced with stubborn residents, the next step that Town Councils may take is to organise stakeouts where their officers as well as NEA officers wait at the opposite block to catch the offender red—handed.

Offenders who throw 'minor' litter such as cigarette butts and sweet wrappers are fined S$200. Repeat offenders and those who throw more serious litter like plastic bags and food wrappers are sent to court and may be sentenced to a corrective work order.

In some cases, cameras may be used to catch offenders. However this is quite uncommon, due to the high cost and the difficulty of finding appropriate places for intsallation.

One complainant, 32—year old Mdm Laureen Gan said that she has been putting up with with her neighbour’s littering of used sanitary pads for around five years. After complaining numerous times to her Town Council and the NEA, a camera was installed to catch the culprit.

The camera was placed at the opposite block, and caught a female figure from the 9th floor littering. But as the face of the offender could not be clearly identified, no actions or charges were brought about.


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