CCTV surveillance paid by community committees combats illegal parking in Sunset Way

Illegal and obstructive parking in Clementi Arcade caused traffic delays and safety issues during peak hours. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - To combat illegal parking in their neighbourhood, grassroots volunteers in Sunset Way decided to bring in their own brand of community vigilance involving a mobile camera set-up, which has been a success so far.

When patrons and suppliers parked illegally along the curb outside Clementi Arcade, it used to cause traffic delays and safety issues during peak hours for more than 1,000 households in the Sunset Way estate, as drivers had to maneuvre the narrower road.

The unique layout of the area meant that residents had to go through it - a single lane in each direction - to exit to the main road or return home.

Mr John Teo, 43, a member of Sunset Way Neighbourhood Committee and a resident in the area, said on Saturday that their efforts have reduced traffic delays and safety concerns.

They were first aided by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which deployed a mobile camera set-up to the Sunset Way estate in December 2021 to catch errant drivers.

After this initiative ended in April, grassroots volunteers decided, as a trial, to hire camera surveillance equipment from a vendor until August in hopes of changing driver behaviour for good.

They rented a mobile camera surveillance set-up from a private vendor, in line with LTA standards, for about $1,500 a month, with 10 volunteers making reports to the Traffic Police.

The volunteers would receive notifications about the violations from the vendor company, which used artificial intelligence to identify instances of errant parking in the surveillance footage.

The costs were paid by the Sunset Way Neighbourhood Committee and Bukit Timah Citizens' Consultative Committee.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Sim Ann said: "The usual approach taken in residential neighbourhoods bothered by localised illegal parking is to ask LTA to enforce.

"However, we know from experience that official enforcement resources are finite, and prioritised for high-traffic areas like arterial roads rather than residential streets."

She added that the volunteers and she were grateful to LTA for deploying the mobile traffic enforcement camera, but also knew that it would be moved elsewhere after a few months.

Since the community-led phase of surveillance began, the number of offenders caught on camera has decreased.

In May and June, there were about three traffic violation reports made weekly.

This declined to one to two a week in July.

In August, there were three consecutive weeks where no traffic violations were reported.

Said Ms Sim: "This experience shows that there is scope for the community to supplement LTA's enforcement, and getting obstructive or illegal parking down to the level that our residents find tolerable."

To further cement the change in driver behaviour, the community volunteers have decided to extend this project for another four months to January 2023.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Sunset Way Neighbourhood Committee tree planting event on Saturday, Ms Sim said they had tried using barriers along the road as deterrence but they were unsightly and did not alleviate the problem.

She added: "I'd be happy to share the results of the experiment once it is finished with my colleagues or with other divisions."

When asked about an update on the Clementi landslide that had occurred in early September, Ms Sim said the recovery works on the canal as well as slope stabilisation at the incident site were proceeding according to plan.

On Sept 2, a landslide at the Clementi NorthArc construction site in Clementi Avenue 6 damaged the park connector and displaced soil into the Ulu Pandan canal.

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