Some participants of the sixth season of the National Steps Challenge have been left frustrated after being unable to book an appointment to collect their free steps tracker for three days.
Those eligible to get a tracker this season, which began on Oct 1, can collect the wearable device from collection points that include certain Singapore Post outlets, community clubs and Safra clubhouses.
However, on Sunday, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) said in a Facebook post that its system for booking and management of appointments on its Healthy 365 app was unavailable due to technical difficulties.
Checks by ST showed the system was still down as at 9.30pm yesterday and there were more than 800 comments - mostly from frustrated participants - on HPB's Facebook post.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, HPB said there have been issues with loading, display and slow response.
"Upon discovering the technical errors, we have immediately disabled the booking system and started our rectification and testing process," the board said.
"We understand that this has caused some inconvenience to those who wish to collect the HPB fitness trackers to participate in the challenge and we hope to restore the appointment system as soon as possible."
Registration and participation in the challenge through the Healthy 365 mobile app, as well as other app functions, remain unaffected, it added.
HPB is providing a free tracker to those who are signing up for the first time for the challenge.
Participants in past challenges who did not collect a tracker in the previous challenge, or who completed all six "Steps Rewards" tiers in previous seasons, are also eligible for the wearable device.
Among the irate respondents on HPB's Facebook announcement was Mig Chan, who asked why walk-in collection was not allowed, given the system outage.
HPB responded to his comment by saying that walk-in collection was not allowed to adhere to safe management measures and to prevent crowding at distribution points.
Administrative assistant Serene Tan told ST she had been trying unsuccessfully to book an appointment since Monday.
Ms Tan, 48, said: "I've been going into the app every hour to check if it works. It is really a waste of my time."
Started in 2015, the National Steps Challenge rewards participants for completing steps with Healthpoints, which can be redeemed for vouchers to use at various supermarkets, retailers and eateries.
HPB and its trackers made headlines earlier this year after the Auditor-General's Office reported that the board had an excess of 268,000 fitness trackers in its inventory, valued at $4.26 million in total.
Following this discovery, HPB carried out a full stock count in January, which found it actually had 341,000 excess trackers, valued at $5.39 million in total.