Committee of Supply debate

Municipal issues: MSO to work with town councils

A new crowdsourcing function being added to the MSO's OneService mobile app will allow people to use it to report abandoned trolleys.
A new crowdsourcing function being added to the MSO's OneService mobile app will allow people to use it to report abandoned trolleys.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The Municipal Services Office (MSO) will work with all 16 town councils here to help coordinate their response to municipal issues in housing estates.

This is because "more than 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in HDB estates which are managed by town councils", Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who heads the MSO, said yesterday.

Since last year, the office - set up in October 2014 to improve coordination among government agencies - has been working with the Jurong-Clementi and Holland-Bukit Panjang town councils in a trial.

It also works with 11 agencies, such as the police and Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The remaining 14 town councils, including the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, will come on board this year starting from this month, said Ms Fu.

Speaking at the debate on the Ministry of National Development's budget, Ms Fu said the average time taken to close complex cases requiring the input of multiple agencies has gone down from 21 to 13 days.

She added that the MSO and the two town councils came up with a comprehensive manual that clarifies the municipal issues the town councils and the various agencies should handle in housing estates.

And when it comes to water-related issues, town councils and the PUB will deal with specific matters, such as leakages and water-quality problems respectively.

Moving ahead, the MSO will look into improving coordination over other issues like high-rise littering and pigeon-feeding, said Ms Fu.

But she emphasised that the MSO's collaboration with the town councils is "not meant to and will not replace the functions of the town councils nor weaken their autonomy in service delivery".

Ms Fu also announced a new crowdsourcing function that will be added to the MSO's OneService mobile app by this month. For a start, people can use it to report abandoned trolleys, so that supermarket chains can locate and retrieve them more efficiently.

If the initiative works well, the crowdsourcing arrangements will be expanded to cover other municipal issues, she said.

Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) called for improved workflow between agencies.

To this, Ms Fu said the LTA will handle feedback on the maintenance of infrastructure like footpaths or walkways from June. The National Parks Board, which took over grass-cutting contracts last year, will take over other forms of greenery maintenance from the Housing Board, Singapore Land Authority and PUB from June.

The MSO will also roll out a web portal in the later half of the year, which will provide information about dengue clusters, HDB block-cleaning schedules and traffic incidents, among other things.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Municipal issues: MSO to work with town councils'. Print Edition | Subscribe