SINGAPORE: In a bid to deliver municipal services more efficiently, a single contractor will be appointed to handle such services in Tampines under a new pilot project.
Services include the cleaning of public areas, enforcement against smoking or littering, park maintenance and bird management.
Announcing the pilot on Thursday (Mar 4), Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said this would lead to better maintained neighbourhoods for residents.
Under current processes, the various agencies have different contractors carrying out works.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to move away from a heavy reliance on manpower, said Ms Sim, adding that at the same time, the Municipal Services Office (MSO) also wanted to address “structural barriers” that prevented it from delivering better services.
“One such barrier is the delivery of municipal services along agency lines,” she added.
The pilot is a collaboration between MSO and six other agencies, including the National Environment Agency, the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Police Force.
“The intended end-state for this pilot is that it should no longer matter ‘which agency’s issue’ it is, as the common operator will deliver all in-scope municipal services required on the ground,” MSO added in its media release.
This would mean faster detection and resolution of issues, as well as more efficient works, given that some services can be consolidated.
HOW THE PILOT WILL WORK
Ground operations will start in late 2021, with a tender under way to appoint a contractor.
Tampines was chosen for the pilot because it is a mature estate with a greater variety of municipal issues that the new service delivery model can be tested on, MSO told CNA.
The pilot will be split in two phases, each lasting three years.
In the first phase, the contractor will have to handle multiple elements - cleaning services, pest control, enforcement against offences such as smoking and littering, as well as the maintenance of minor infrastructure.
In the next phase, it will have additional responsibilities such as greenery maintenance, animal and bird management, high-rise littering surveillance, community noise management and the maintenance of park infrastructure.
Nevertheless, the agencies involved remain accountable for the outcomes from this new model of delivering municipal services, MSO told CNA.
READ: Fewer tickets issued for littering and smoking offences in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions: NEA
Another key objective of the pilot is to increase the use of “innovative, non-mainstream” operations technology such as data analytics, to reduce reliance on manpower.
The pilot should also redesign municipal service jobs, such as through cross-training and upgrading of workers for “more sustainable operations”.
Ms Sim gave the example of how workers inspecting municipal infrastructure defects could be trained to also spot pest issues.
“Over time, more higher-skilled municipal jobs will be created for locals,” she said.
If the workforce upgrading and productivity initiatives work well and consistently, this would also ultimately lower operating costs in the medium- to long-term for the industry and buyers like the Government, MSO told CNA.