Litterbugs are turning S'pore into eyesore

Litterbugs have been springing up all over Singapore, throwing their rubbish (clockwise form left) under plants, in railings, or just blatantly out in the open.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Litterbugs come in different forms. There are the devious ones, who prefer to surreptitiously drop their rubbish in plant troughs or hide it in railing gaps.

In contrast, there is the cocky I'll-dump-it-in-the-open-and-not-care-if-it's-inconvenient-to-others type.

Here are three different ways litterbugs have been tossing their junk:

THEY HIDE IT UNDER PLANTS

Near OneKM shopping mall in Tanjong Katong Road, a crowd favourite seems to be throwing cigarette butts in the soil, which is partially hidden from view by foliage.

This makes it challenging for the cleaners because they have to use tools, such as tongs, to get to the rubbish.

One cleaner said: "We have to pick up not only cigarette butts but also drink cans, plastic cups, loose litter and food.

"We can pick up only about two cigarette butts at a time and there are about a hundred cigarette butts all over the mall's exterior.

"It is difficult as it takes hours, especially for one of the cleaners, who has a problem walking."

Sometimes, the rain causes the rubbish to be buried further into the soil, which makes the clean-up even more difficult.

The cleaners from the mall clear only the rubbish that is closest to the fence. If loose pieces of trash are close to the road, the cleaners do not pick them up for safety reasons. Added the cleaner: "Most of the culprits, about 85 per cent, are shop workers who are lazy."

THEY STUFF IT INSIDE Handrails

At Balestier Road, cigarette butts were found inside the small opening of a metal handrail.

Ms Stella Soon, 40, a housewife and mother of two who lives in Balestier, was surprised to see this.

She said: "I feel disgusted that people do not bother to throw their rubbish or cigarette butts in the proper dustbins. It makes the environment untidy, dirty and unhygienic.

"It is especially bad for children as they sometimes like to put their fingers in these holes and they do not look before putting their fingers in."

THEY'RE JUST BLATANT ABOUT IT

Further down, at the Balestier-Toa Payoh area, the I'll-just-dump-it-in- the-open type seemed to dominate.

A fridge, a bookshelf and parts of a machine were found disposed at the walkway in Jalan Kemaman.

A pile of six mattresses and bed frames were found next to an industrial building in Ah Hood Road.

In other parts of Singapore, The New Paper also found bulky pieces of rubbish, in Little India, Sungei Road and Syed Alwi Road.

The sight of junk in unexpected places is an eyesore not only to Singaporeans.

Briton Phillip Sayer, 58, was found sitting in front of a heap of rubbish in Orchard Road.

Mr Sayer, who has been to Singapore 12 times, said: "When I first came here in 1998, there was nothing like this at all.

"There is a big difference now and there seems to be a lack of cleaners around. If this continues, I may not return to Singapore again."

MORE TICKETS ISSUED

National Environment Agency figures show that for the first half of 2015, over 12,000 tickets were issued for littering - a 34 per cent rise from the same period in 2014.

About 70 per cent of the tickets were issued to residents.

Over the same period, there were 551 instances of corrective work order (CWO) imposed by the courts, a 72 per cent rise from the same period in 2014.

Less than 6 per cent of those who served CWOs were caught littering again.

The maximum fine for littering is $1,000 for a first conviction. An offender can be fined up to $2,000 for a second conviction and not more than $5,000 for a subsequent conviction.

The courts may also impose Corrective Work Orders (CWOs) requiring offenders to clean public areas for up to 12 hours.


This article was first published on January 16, 2016.
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