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First a fishball stick, now a fallen tree branch

One viewer spoke to us about the frustrations he faced when trying to track down which government agency was responsible for clearing a fallen tree branch.  

SINGAPORE: Having a call centre dedicated to receiving public feedback on municipal issues could help different agencies respond more quickly - this is an idea one member of the public hopes will be incorporated in the recently announced Municipal Services Office.

Business development manager Gary Haris spoke to Channel NewsAsia about the frustrations he faced over a fallen tree branch on a grass patch along MacKenzie Road, which we understand had been lying there for at least a month and a half.

About a month ago, Mr Haris said he informed the National Parks Board (NParks) about the fallen branch. Sometime last week, NParks informed him that the area is managed by the Istana.

"Earlier this morning, an officer from the Istana called me," he told Channel NewsAsia. "She said she has also come over to take a look at fallen tree branch and she said this area, once it's outside the fence of Istana, it does not come under the purview of the Istana. She said this plot of land belongs to PUB, and she said she will bring it up to PUB."

The issue bears similarities to an incident highlighted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 17) at the National Day Rally. Mr Lee described a situation where a fishball stick on the ground was not cleared for about two days, in part due to confusion over which authority was in charge of cleaning the area.

Mr Haris acknowledges that, like the now infamous fishball stick incident, the fallen tree branches do not obstruct traffic, nor do they endanger the public. Rather it's about how authorities coordinate and respond more efficiently to the public's feedback.

He has been providing feedback to the various agencies on issues ranging from potholes to to damaged lamposts. Two weeks ago, he says he called the Land Transport Authority (LTA) about signage that was virtually uprooted along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. Coincidentally, he was also informed by LTA today that the signage belongs to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and that the URA would follow up on it.  

He says a dedicated call centre at the Municipal Services Office (MSO), which will aim to serve as a bridge between different agencies, could help. "I have come across many many cases where I have been pushed  around. Sometimes it's taken me 20 calls, 30 calls, even six months before an issue is resolved. So I think a department like this overlooking and making sure the issue is rectified could be given a KPI, maybe within one week, two weeks or three weeks, but solving the situation."

The branches that Mr Haris highlighted were eventually cleared up on Tuesday (Aug 19). In a statement, the Ministry of National Development, which will oversee the MSO, says the public will be able to give feedback to the MSO "for situations where it is unclear which agency is responsible".

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