SINGAPORE - In a move to get more residents to pick up the habit of keeping public spaces litter-free, storage sheds with cleaning equipment will be set up at housing estates islandwide.
This was announced by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) on Sunday (Oct 31) as it expanded the SG Clean Day initiative - which started in April this year - from an annual to quarterly affair.
There will be no sweeping at all public parks, gardens, park connectors, open areas and ground levels of housing estates from 6am to midnight during SG Clean Day. This is aimed at raising public awareness about the amount of litter piled up without cleaners' intervention.
SG Clean Day is expected to become a monthly event next year.
The expanded initiative was kicked off by the PHC along with the National Parks Board and all 17 town councils at Bukit Batok's Fuji Hill Park.
PHC also launched a community storage shed, known as CleanPod, at the park, where residents got their first glimpse of tools like tongs, buckets and trolleys that they can use.
Twelve of these sheds were previously set up at public parks for residents to tap. More are expected to be rolled out across all town councils over the next few months.
Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor, who was the guest of honour at the event, noted how the pandemic has highlighted the importance of public health and hygiene.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the demands on our cleaners. Having initiatives like this gives our cleaners some warranted time-off and is a tangible way for us to show our appreciation for the work of the cleaners," she said.
Dr Khor cited the 2021 Public Cleanliness Satisfaction Survey conducted by Singapore Management University, with 97 per cent of respondents agreeing that residents must work together with cleaners to keep their neighbourhoods clean.
"I hope that SG Clean Day will help to further instil a sense of ownership in members of the public so they play their part and keep public spaces clean," she added.
Town councils will regularly disinfect equipment in the CleanPods and residents are advised to wear gloves while picking up litter.
Since the beginning of the year, about 20,000 users have registered their interest for clean-up activities while 280 organisations and groups have used the CleanPods as at September.
PHC chairman Edward D'Silva said: "We can be proud to take ownership of our public parks, gardens and estate's cleanliness. Residents can now do so by utilising the shared tools in our CleanPods to organise their own litter-picking activities.
"Let's not wait for cleaners to sweep our void decks, public parks and gardens when we can obtain tongs from the CleanPods to pick up the litter."
MP for Bukit Batok Murali Pillai and Mr Lim Biow Chuan, coordinating chairman for PAP town councils, also attended the event, where tokens of appreciation were given to cleaners.
Sunday's SG Clean Day also kicked off a month of litter-picking activities in November.
NParks' assistant chief executive Tang Tuck Weng noted how public parks have become an important space for leisure and exercise among Singapore residents during the pandemic.
"Through the SG Clean Day initiative, we would like to encourage everyone to play a part in keeping our parks, gardens and public spaces clean. This way, our green spaces can continue to offer respite and enhance the mental and physical well-being of visitors for years to come," he said.
Readers can find more information on CleanPods here.
Those keen to help out at a beach clean-up, can register here.
Other efforts made to pursue a conducive living environment islandwide include mandatory tray return at hawker centres that began last month, and the National Environment Agency embarking on a Coffeeshop Toilet Improvement Programme where it co-funds toilet renovations and toilet cleaning contracts.