SINGAPORE: More than 1,000 enforcement actions were taken against high-rise litterbugs last year, after the number of surveillance cameras installed rose by more than 50 per cent from 2019.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) also worked with town councils to share information in the investigation of littering offences, said Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor on Tuesday (Feb 2).
Responding to a question by MP Liang Eng Hwa (PAP-Bukit Panjang) in Parliament, Dr Khor added that the National Environment Agency (NEA) will continue to keep up with developments in camera surveillance for high-rise littering.
In June last year, NEA said cameras have been installed at more than 1,500 areas with persistent high-rise littering complaints.
But NEA's efforts must be accompanied by social graciousness, good habits and a sense of collective responsibility to keep Singapore clean, said Dr Khor.
To raise public awareness about high-rise littering, the agency has put up informative standees at public areas with persistent littering complaints. Enforcement at these areas has also been stepped up, Dr Khor said.
Together with town councils, NEA is also installing posters at Housing Board blocks, highlighting the environmental and social consequences of littering.
"STEADY STATE" PROBLEM?
Despite NEA's efforts, there has been "no visible improvement" in the estates it has been monitoring, said Mr Liang.
He noted that the issue of high-rise littering has been raised by many MPs over the years, and asked if it was a case where the deterrents were not working.
Mr Liang also asked whether NEA sees the issue as a “steady state” problem.
In response, Dr Khor said that due to the nature of the offence, as well as the fact that Singapore’s estates are very dense, it is not easy to identify and apprehend culprits.
But she emphasised that high-rise littering is a serious offence, and NEA has continually leveraged technology to improve its processes.
For example, NEA has improved its work processes through data analytics to shorten the waiting time for camera deployment and surveillance.
“That’s the reason why we’re able to increase the number of camera deployments. We have also worked to streamline our investigation procedures to shorten the investigating period as far as possible.”
Dr Khor also added that penalties have been raised over the years.
Penalties for high-rise littering were last increased in 2014, when the Environmental Public Health Act was amended. First-time offenders now face a fine of up to S$2,000, while repeat offenders can be fined up to S$10,000.
Dr Khor noted that statistics show the percentage of repeat offenders committing high-rise littering offences is lower compared to that of general littering offenders. This shows that there is a deterrent effect, she said.