Nee Soon cleaners try tricycles with bins to boost efficiency

Mr Abu Repon, a cleaner working in Nee Soon, feels the tricycle trumps the trolley he was using before as it is easier to clean the estate now. There are nine such tricycles deployed in Nee Soon: five in Kebun Baru constituency and four in Chong Pang
Mr Abu Repon, a cleaner working in Nee Soon, feels the tricycle trumps the trolley he was using before as it is easier to clean the estate now. There are nine such tricycles deployed in Nee Soon: five in Kebun Baru constituency and four in Chong Pang. PHOTO: NEE SOON TOWN COUNCIL

Town council tests new method to save time and reduce cleaners' workload

Pushing an unwieldy metal trolley full of rubbish and bulky refuse is back-breaking work. But that is what estate cleaners now do in the course of their work.

They pick rubbish and bulky refuse, and pile them onto bins on top of metal trolleys, which they push for over 20 blocks.

To make their job easier, Nee Soon Town Council is trying out tricycles with attached bins.

With the tricycles, the cleaners can cut back on labour and also save time on travelling between areas they clean.

Mr Abu Repon, 32, a Bangladeshi cleaner working in Nee Soon, said of his tricycle: "It's much faster and easier to clean the estate now.

"Previously, it would take me half an hour to clean a big carpark. Now, it takes only 20 minutes."

There are now nine such tricycles deployed in Nee Soon: five in Kebun Baru constituency and four in Chong Pang.

More may be added in other parts of Nee Soon - Nee Soon Central, Nee Soon East and Nee Soon South - after a review.

The tricycles were the result of talks between the town council and its cleaning contractors on how to improve the welfare of their cleaners, reduce their workload and boost productivity, said Nee Soon Town Council's assistant property manager Goh Eng Lam.

He said: "Each cleaner has to cover 20 to 25 blocks, sometimes stretched out over 3km to 5km.

"Pushing trolleys with loaded bins over this distance is extremely tedious."

Besides using tricycles to boost the productivity of cleaners, the town council has also streamlined its rubbish-clearing process.

"Previously, once the bin was full, the cleaner had to push the trolley back to the trash collection station.

"Now, they can tie up the trash and leave it by the roadside, and their supervisor will come around with a lorry to pick it up," said Mr Goh.

The town council is also testing a motorised vehicle which can hold mops and bulky refuse. One is now deployed in Chong Pang, and makes it easier and faster for cleaners to respond to wet incidents or collect large pieces of refuse which cannot fit tricycles or trolleys.

Town council chairman Louis Ng gave his support for the use of technology in this manner.

"Cleaning is a labour-intensive and essential job, and I'm glad the town council is using technology to improve the cleaners' welfare," said Mr Ng, who is an MP for Nee Soon GRC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline 'Nee Soon cleaners try tricycles with bins to boost efficiency'. Print Edition | Subscribe