SINGAPORE - Insurance agent Cassi Wong never opens the windows of her ground-floor HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang North 6.
Neither does her neighbour.
But it's not because they are anti-social or averse to fresh air.
For the last three months, the two neighbours have had to put up with the exhaust fumes from cars and other motor vehicles waiting at a popular loading and unloading bay next to their flat.
Leaving the windows open would mean a perpetual stench lingering in their flats.
It wasn't always like this.
Previously, the HDB had put bollards at the bay to deter illegal parking.
And while the bollards did not stop motorists from waiting there, the vehicles had to park further from the ground-floor units.
But in June, HDB removed the bollards.
Instead, HDB installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to catch errant motorists and deter illegal parking. (See report, right.)
Yet, despite the cameras and prominent signs warning against illegal parking, offenders continue to do so.
Only now, the vehicles illegally park even closer to the flats, residents say.
Madam Wong and her neighbour, Madam Ivy Yong, said the problem for them is getting worse.
"When the poles were around, there were many people who parked illegally. But now, without the poles, they park even closer to my house," said Madam Wong, 41, who suffers from asthma.
"I have to close all the windows, all the time. I feel like a prisoner in my own home."
Madam Yong, 47, who has been living there for the past five years, also keeps her windows closed constantly.
"Some of the motorists turn on their engine and the smell is overwhelming, and they don't realise it because they are in their air-con vehicles," she said.
"But they would usually turn them off if I tell them to."
Their block is next to a coffee shop, a mini-mart and a kindergarten.
The installation of the CCTV camera has also caused much grief to mini-mart owner Veronica Lee, 40.
Suppliers of her mini-mart are frequent users of the bay and almost all of them have been fined at least once so far.
"A deliveryman threatened not to send to my mini-mart any more if his boss wouldn't waive the fine," she said.
"They don't earn much and a $100 fine is very hefty for them. It takes a while to load and unload and sometimes there is a queue.
"They should at least inform us how long they are allowed at the loading and unloading bay before they will get a fine."
An HDB spokesman told The New Paper that it decided to replace the bollards with CCTVs to "better manage the illegal parking situation".
"Prominent signboards have been installed in the area to alert motorists, following the implementation," added the spokesman.
HDB did not reveal the number of motorists caught at this particular location since its implementation.
"As the operation of this CCTV has commenced only recently, it is premature for us to comment on the effectiveness of the CCTV," said the HDB spokesman.
When The New Paper went down to the estate during the lunch hour on a weekday, we spotted at least five vehicles parked illegally in the area.
Another resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Goh, in his 40s, said he had to warn several motorists about the fine.
"Most of them just want to get a takeaway from the coffee shop and they will say, 'Five minutes, five minutes' when I tell them about the fine," he said. "It's their choice if they want to pay $100 for a bowl of noodles."
Fortunately for the residents, they will soon be spared the noise and fumes of idling vehicles.
The loading and unloading bay will be relocated to a more secluded area to minimise any inconveniences caused to residents, said HDB.
"Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor the parking situation at the carpark closely," said the HDB spokesman.
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