More effective measures needed to clean up litter problem

I could not agree more with Mrs Padmini Kesavapany ("Act against throwing of litter into drains"; Dec 22).

The littering problem is not confined to Little India but is nationwide.

When the Keep Singapore Clean campaign was launched in October 1968, it gained significant traction and, for many years, we enjoyed a litter-free environment.

This earned Singapore the honour of being one of the cleanest cities in the world.

However, it is now apparent that we are unable to sustain this image as, over the last few years, the situation has deteriorated substantially.

The 19,000 tickets issued for littering in 2014 - almost double the number in 2013 - bear testimony to the appalling state we are now witnessing ("Current measures against littering in Singapore"; ST Online, Feb 10, 2015).

There were probably many more culprits who escaped. Residents and non-residents are both guilty, with the latter accounting for 31 per cent of the tickets issued.

Pavements fronting shops, especially those in the vicinity of bus stops, are cluttered with litter.

I observe that most shops keep their premises clean but ignore the litter outside, probably believing that the cleaning of pavements is the responsibility of the National Environment Agency. As a result, some litter remains there for a long time.

Measures to deter littering, such as fines, corrective work orders, education, campaigns and the mobilisation of volunteers to discourage littering seem to have lost their effect.

Perhaps it is time to review these measures to find more effective ways to address the problem.

The compulsory daily cleaning across schools implemented by the Ministry of Education is certainly a step in the right direction ("All schools to have cleaning activities daily from January"; Dec 12).

When students begin to internalise good habits and attitudes of cleanliness and social responsibility, they can be good examples to adults.

However, this is a long-term project. Meanwhile, we need to rein in the deterioration.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2016, with the headline 'More effective measures needed to clean up litter problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe