Tackling high-rise littering bag by bag

Dr Lily Neo, MP for Jalan Besar GRC and chairman of Jalan Besar Town Council, distributing trash bags to residents of Block 2 in Jalan Kukoh as part of a new campaign to arrest high-rise littering in the area.
Dr Lily Neo, MP for Jalan Besar GRC and chairman of Jalan Besar Town Council, distributing trash bags to residents of Block 2 in Jalan Kukoh as part of a new campaign to arrest high-rise littering in the area.PHOTO: JALAN BESAR TOWN COUNCIL

Residents in Jalan Kukoh given three months' worth of trash bags as part of new campaign

In a country where high-rise littering appears to be on the increase, Blocks 2 and 3 in Jalan Kukoh, off Chin Swee Road, stand out for their filth.

Soiled diapers and sanitary napkins - missiles hurled from flat windows - are strewn on the ground, a daily sight. Residents complain about various types of litter landing on them, including ash.

Yesterday the Jalan Besar Town Council launched a counter-campaign against these litterbugs.

Residents of the two rental blocks, comprising 534 units, will be given 35 garbage bags a month for the next three months. Each will come with a reminder to bag, tie and dispose of rubbish in the chutes. Lift doors at the blocks will also carry stickers reminding residents not to litter.

It is what MP for Jalan Besar GRC Lily Neo calls the "soft approach" to encourage residents to dispose of their rubbish properly.

"We hope to get the support of residents for a cleaner and healthier environment for everybody," said Dr Neo, adding that stagnant water could also collect in litter which could in turn lead to the breeding of mosquitoes.

If successful, the programme could be extended to other parts of the GRC. But whether the campaign will work in the estate - which is among Singapore's poorest - remains to be seen.

Ms Natly Sazali, who lives in Block 2, said one reason some residents may throw litter out of their windows is that the rubbish chutes are located at the opposite ends of each block, which is more than 20m long.

This could be a long walk, especially for elderly residents, said the 26-year-old sales associate, who has seen litter being tossed out of windows while she was out with her children, aged three and nine.

Dr Neo, who is also chairman of the Jalan Besar Town Council, said littering could simply be a force of habit for some residents.

This is hardly restricted to Jalan Kukoh.

There were 2,800 cases of high-rise littering reported to the National Environment Agency last year and 2,500 cases the previous year. Two arrests were made for injuries caused by the litter.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, suggested that high-rise litterbugs could be given Corrective Work Orders to clean up the areas they had dirtied.

He said this was not to shame them, but to educate them.

"We should focus on education first, and then enforcement," said the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for the Environment and Water Resources.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline 'Tackling high-rise littering bag by bag'. Print Edition | Subscribe