SINGAPORE - Senior citizens at Radin Mas have a new way of zipping around their estate: They can now borrow electric scooters for a couple of hours to go to the wet market or polyclinic, or run their errands.
The constituency is believed to be the first public housing estate here to provide such a service.
The Radin Mas Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) bought a fleet of 30 electric scooters at a cost of $35,000, which was donated by Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple.
"The scooters will help the seniors move around the estate more easily," said Radin Mas Member of Parliament Sam Tan at the launch of the service yesterday.
The estate has about 45,000 residents, of whom one in five is aged 60 or above.
The scooters, which are fitted with a basket, are parked at the two community centres, three senior activity centres and a family services centre in the estate.
The seniors can use them for free for two hours each time, by leaving their identity cards at the centres. There will also be staff and volunteers at the centres to teach them how to operate the scooters safely on the pavements.
The scooters run on rechargeable batteries and are not allowed on public roads.
"They are meant for use within the estate, not to go to Redhill or Tiong Bahru," said grassroots leader Peter Lim, who led volunteers to implement the project over the past three months.
Mr Lim disclosed that the constituency also considered motorised wheelchairs, but settled for scooters which are safer and easier to use. "We considered the self-esteem of the seniors, some of whom do not want to use wheelchairs."
Apart from electric scooters, Mr Tan, who is also the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, said he is also working towards making the estate barrier-free to help the seniors move around.
The scooter service can also encourage graciousness and a "give-and-take" attitude in the community, said Mr Tan. "I hope that other residents, when they see the elderly residents riding on scooters... will give way to them. They are, after all, our seniors and elderly (who) deserve our respect."
One of those looking forward to using the free scooters was Madam Chee Ah Thye, 74. The grandmother of 11 fell down at home three months ago while doing laundry and hurt her leg. She has since recovered but gets tired when she walks for too long.
"The scooter is easy to use because I used to ride a bicycle when I was younger," she said, after taking the scooter for a test spin at a hawker centre yesterday. "But I have to take a feeder bus from my flat to the nearest place where they are parked, so it is inconvenient," she added.
In response, grassroots leaders said they will look for a suitable spot to park the scooters near where she lives, when the service is reviewed in a few weeks' time.
This article was first published on June 30, 2014.
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