Uptick in high-rise littering cases reported to NEA

No one was killed by killer litter last year, although police arrested two high-rise litterbugs who caused injuries.
No one was killed by killer litter last year, although police arrested two high-rise litterbugs who caused injuries. ST FILE PHOTO

Some 2,800 cases of high-rise littering were reported to the National Environment Agency (NEA) last year, said Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor yesterday.

This is up from the 2,500 cases reported in 2014, and 1,600 cases in 2013.

No one was killed by killer litter last year, although police arrested two high-rise litterbugs who caused injuries, she said.

Dr Khor was responding to Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who asked how many cases of high-rise littering had resulted in injuries and deaths.

Several MPs also called for harsher punishment for recalcitrant litterbugs, citing examples of residents who have complained of clothes being burned by cigarette butts, and faeces being thrown from flats.

Dr Khor acknowledged that high-rise litterbugs "are traditionally difficult to apprehend".

To nab the persistent litterbugs, the NEA deploys surveillance cameras at suitable sites, she said.

More than 3,000 cameras have been deployed since August 2012.

Dr Khor said the cameras have led to identification of offenders in one-third of cases. She said this in response to Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC), who asked how successful the surveillance cameras have been.

Last year, the NEA took enforcement action in more than 800 cases, an 80-fold increase compared to 2011, before surveillance cameras were introduced, she said.

Those who were prosecuted in court were fined between $700 and $5,600.

When cases are reported, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources works with town councils and grassroots organisations to caution residents against high-rise littering, said Dr Khor. In most cases, the situation improved after these efforts, she said.

Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson SMC) asked ifthe ministry would consider revealing the identities of litterbugs, and confiscating the flats of recalcitrant offenders who persist despite being fined many times.

Dr Khor said naming and shaming litterbugs is something the ministry will "monitor and consider".

She also urged Singaporeans to play their part to combat high-rise littering, saying: "I would like to urge every member of the public to play his part to cultivate social graciousness, good habits and a sense of shared responsibility for the cleanliness and safety of our neighbourhoods."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Uptick in high-rise littering cases reported to NEA'. Print Edition | Subscribe