SINGAPORE - If you are caught in the rain in Sembawang, there is no need to fret - if you are at one of its umbrella-sharing spots.
Sembawang GRC MPs Khaw Boon Wan, Lim Wee Kiak and Ong Ye Kung officially launched the Sharella or "Share an umbrella" initiative on Saturday (Dec 30).
With the free scheme, residents can borrow umbrellas from any of 17 pairs of umbrella deposit spots in Sembawang, according to Dr Lim's Facebook page.
The umbrella deposit spots are situated at both ends of traffic crossings which are not sheltered. Residents who need umbrellas can simply pick up one of the umbrellas on the rack, use it to cross the road, and return it at the rack opposite.
Trials for Sharella were first launched with 20 umbrellas on two umbrella racks in Gambas in July, Lianhe Zaobao reported on Saturday.
The new racks are situated at roads near Sembawang MRT, including Admiralty Drive, Sembawang Way, Canberra Road and Sembawang Drive.
The project was the brainchild of a group of students in Republic Polytechnic (RP) who created it for their Final Year Project, which was completed in March this year.
The students, who have since graduated with diplomas in Design for User Experience under RP's School of Technology for the Arts (STA), worked with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for this project, STA's assistant director (capability and industry) Joshua Hong told The Straits Times on Sunday.
Mr Hong, 43, said response has been great.
"So far we've seen Sembawang starting to roll it out at such a large scale. It's a simple, low-cost idea and it makes sense," he said. "It represents that Singapore has reached a certain level in terms of civic consciousness, and as a sharing community."
He said there have not really been cases of people taking the umbrellas and not returning them.
"Usually (if they go missing), it's because people may take them to go home, but the umbrellas usually reappear after a couple of days," he said.
Each rack can take about 20 umbrellas or more, which means there are about 680 shared umbrellas deployed at stations in Sembawang. The respective community clubs pay for the umbrellas, Mr Hong said, but people are also encouraged to donate umbrellas by leaving them at the stands.
Umbrellas have been donated by RP students and private companies. Mr Khaw, Mr Ong and Dr Lim also donated umbrellas at the launch on Saturday.
The project is helmed by a new batch of RP students, who work with LTA and various community organisations interested to take on the scheme.
Currently, only Sembawang and Ulu Pandan residents participate in Sharella, but RP is open to any community who wants to adopt the scheme, Mr Hong said.
"It is meant to be a community-based project, we want to see this grow," he said.