Faster, more effective problem-solving

Faster, more effective problem-solving
Ms Grace Fu (in red), Minister in the Prime Minister's Office with Sharleen Nadya Adlynna Shahriman (centre) and her sister Shaneez Elisya Adriyanna Shahriman at the SG Heart Map event held in Sentosa on 24 May 2015.
PHOTO: SG HEART MAP

Most of the 53,000 municipal feedback cases received by the Municipal Services Office (MSO) every month get resolved.

But there are some which cannot be easily resolved, such as those involving human and animal behaviour, said Ms Grace Fu, a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Sharing the progress of the MSO with reporters yesterday, Ms Fu, who heads the MSO, explained: "Take for example high-rise littering. You can go in and enforce it and sometimes the littering will stop.

"But it doesn't mean that it will stop forever. Sometimes it does recur after a few months...

"What we are focusing on are areas where there are system problems - where it's not clear which agency (should step in) or to what extent the roles and responsibilities of the agencies (are), or when boundary issues have stopped (the agencies) from making the optimal outcome."

GOOD BASE

The MSO was started last October to handle municipal issues that involve multiple government agencies.

So far, it has 11 partner agencies on board that cover a "significant part of the common municipal services",Ms Fu said.

"If we see from the feedback that comes to us that certain agencies are named but not participating yet, we will try to invite them to come in.

"But so far, I think the 11 have given us a very good base," said Ms Fu, who is also Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resource.

The close coordination between MSO and agencies such as HDB and police, means residents can expect a faster response.

For instance, requests for municipal infrastructure that straddle agencies will be evaluated expeditiously, taking into account the needs of residents, she said.

She cited an example of a proposed footpath at Buangkok MRT station that will be built next year.

Two residents had proposed the footpath to two different agencies early this year. Five agencies were involved before a solution was found. (See report on right).

The response time for referral cases has dropped from eight working days to 6½ on average, thanks to the integrated back-end feedback management system that links MSO and its partner agencies.

Now, MSO is hoping to rope in town councils for better coordination on issues relating to maintenance and cleaning of common areas in HDB estates, Ms Fu said.

Following a successful pilot programme in March involving Jurong and Holland-Bukit Panjang town councils, the MSO hopes to extend an invitation to all other town councils, including the opposition-run town council. Six more town councils will also join the pilot programme.

There will not be very strict criteri but Ms Fu said she will assess the readiness of the town councils who wish to join.

"You have to look at the readiness of the town councils, whether they are prepared to invest the kind of human resources necessary to make changes to their back end, to train their staff and so on. "The enthusiasm and the readiness of the town councils is actually quite important," she said.

Ms Grace Fu: If we see from the feedback that comes to us that certain agencies are named but not participating yet, we will try to invite them to come in.

How MSO stepped in

FOOTPATH FROM MRT

Two separate requests were put to HDB and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) early this year to build a footpath linking Buangkok MRT Station to the nearby Palm View Primary School and Esparina Residences.

The proposed footpath, however, is on a piece of State land earmarked for future development.

The Municipal Services Office (MSO) worked with the relevant agencies - HDB, LTA, Singapore Land Authority and People's Association - to find a solution.

The footpath will be built early next year to provide a more direct and safer route for residents.

BROKEN SLAB ON FOOTPATH

A resident wrote to LTA to report a broken slab on a footpath near Parkway Parade shopping mall. As the damaged slab was not under LTA's purview, the case was referred to MSO via the integrated municipal feedback management system.

MSO approached PUB, the national water agency, to check on the case urgently as the broken slab, which was over a drain, could affect pedestrians' safety.

PUB verified that the drain comes under Parkway Parade's purview and informed its managing agent. The broken slab was replaced four days after MSO's intervention.

PRUNING TREES

To screen residents from the noise and dust from Tampines Expressway (TPE), the National Parks Board (NParks) planted some trees near the expressway.

But due to the lack of space, the trees were planted within the town council's area. NParks would prune the trees, but the town council had to do the routine site cleansing.

Concerned about the challenges of maintaining the large tract of land, the town council approached the MSO for help.

The MSO resolved the issue by confirming the respective roles of the town council and NParks. It also helped to level the land so the town council could carry out maintenance more easily and residents would not be affected by any dip in maintenance quality.


This article was first published on July 07, 2015.
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