'Clean your own neighbourhood day' as part of anti-littering drive

'Clean your own neighbourhood day' as part of anti-littering drive

Every year, town councils are going to set aside one day when residents will clean their own neighbourhoods. This is part of a plan to battle the ever-mounting litter problem.

Other steps to be taken include officers of the National Environment Agency (NEA) being kitted out with body-worn cameras - like those used by the police - to capture abuse and attacks by people.

"We will also make it easier for members of the public to submit video or photographic evidence which we can use for investigation and prosecution," Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament yesterday, when he announced a raft of anti- littering measures being considered by his ministry, which oversees the NEA.

It is also looking at ways to get people to clean up after themselves at major events, including this year's National Day Parade.

"Spectators and participants will be encouraged to clean up the Padang at the end of each show and its fringe celebrations... as a reflection of our national pride."

These moves are prompted by the attention drawn to the issue in January, following Facebook posts from three politicians, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

They had commented on the appalling amount of rubbish left behind by about 13,000 concert- goers at the Laneway Festival at Gardens by the Bay.

Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said the standard of cleanliness has fallen, with his ministry's surveys showing that from 2006 to 2010, the litter observed or collected had almost doubled.

The cleaning bill for public places comes to a projected $120 million a year, with some hot spots being cleaned once every two hours, he added.

Responding to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), he said the NEA's Community Volunteer Scheme will no longer be just for volunteers of non-governmental organisations such as the Waterways Watch Society and Singapore Kindness Movement.

Others can join as well, and all volunteers will get the same training as new NEA officers, giving them "similar status and authority as a regular NEA officer", he said, adding that the laws will be amended later.

"We must become more like Japan and Taiwan, where it is peer pressure and role modelling that set the standard," he added.


This article was first published on March 12, 2015.
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