SINGAPORE - Residents of Marsiling Constituency will soon regularly patrol a 50m-long underpass in their estate, after "adopting" it on Sunday (April 2) - a first in Singapore.
This means that residents will work with government agencies such as the Land Transport Authority and National Environment Agency (NEA) for its maintenance.
The 44-year-old underpass links Masjid An-Nur Mosque, Marsiling Community Club and Woodlands Secondary School to the HDB blocks across Admiralty Road.
On Sunday, Speaker of Parliament and MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC (Marsiling) Madam Halimah Yacob officiated the adoption by the Zone 1 Residents' Committee, in an event attended by around 320 residents.
Saying she is optimistic that the move will be sustainable, Madam Halimah added the underpass used to be "dark and dingy", and attracted complaints from residents.
"Before, it was just neglected. It was no-man's land," she said. "When there is somebody taking care of it, people feel that they don't want to mess up a place. There is a sense of ownership."
As for other facilities, similar "adoptions" may take some time, she added.
When asked about developments in Woodlands such as the extension of the checkpoint that was recently announced, Madam Halimah added that by August, most shops and hawker stalls will be located in an integrated development at Woodlands Street 13. Those who want to give up their shops will be compensated, she said.
"Residents feel very nostalgic towards it, because (the Old Woodlands Town Centre) provides a huge range of goods at extremely affordable prices," she said.
She added: "But they also accept the fact that it has to make way for development... (and that) the Woodlands Checkpoint needs to be expanded, because they also suffer from the terrible jams that occur every day."
As for the newly adopted underpass on Admiralty Road, the Residents' Committee will regularly engage users and maintain the Walk Cycle Ride @ SG messages that have been painted.
They will help to inculcate safe cycling habits such as dismounting from bicycles and pushing them along the underpass instead, and ensure that the underpass is kept clean and litter-free, calling the NEA for assistance if needed.
Residents' Committee chairman Mr Mohd Noh Tahir, 67, said he was happy to take over some of the maintenance for the public facility.
About 10 of his 30 members live in the blocks nearby, he added, and "these are the people whom I've advised to patrol it regularly".
Woodlands resident Madam Rozita Seman, 50, said the underpass "used to be very dirty and smelly, with rubbish strewn around it. But since it has been repainted, it is now very clean."
"When we use it now, my children and I feel happy as well. We used to avoid walking there, and go much further down the road to use the traffic light instead when we needed to go to the Marsiling Community Club (CC)," added the housewife, who brings her children there for lessons.