SINGAPORE: Over the past few months, residents at a Housing Board block in Punggol Sapphire estate have grappled with high-rise litter in the form of used sanitary pads – strewn across the ground floor or even stuck to their window ledges.
Residents at Block 268C Punggol Field told CNA that the problem surfaced around the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period last year, when they began finding stained sanitary pads at the first floor of the housing block.
READ: Police investigating 2 men for allegedly lodging false report about high-rise littering in Punggol
“When walking back from the multi-storey car park, I was so shocked to see this thing lying on the grass patch and drain covers,” said Ms Sue. The residents CNA spoke to did not want to reveal their full names as that would make known their address.
“Then when I was working from home, I was putting up some blinds and I saw some (of the pads) stuck on other neighbours’ window ledges … I was very shocked,” she said.
Another resident, Ms Fara, also complained about the pads, saying: “It’s not just clear discharge, it’s red … I’ve got kids who ask me ‘Mum what’s that’?”
“Why do you throw it out in the first place? … Come on, whether or not it's COVID, it’s hygiene,” she added.
Ms Sue said she first reported the incident via the OneService app for municipal issues in May last year. She also complained about the stained, unrolled pads in the estate’s Facebook group.
The littering then stopped, only to return again a few weeks later in July. This time, the discarded pads were found rolled up, she told CNA.
After another report that prompted authorities to deploy temporary surveillance cameras in the area, residents said the area remained clear for a while.
But the culprit returned to the habit in November and December. Two residents added that they have seen such litter as recently as earlier this month.
Ms Sue made a third report via the OneService app against the sanitary pad litterbug in November.
In a response seen by CNA, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said via the app that it is aware of the issue and had carried out several inspections, as well as issued advisories to those in the housing column.
In the message, NEA said it is studying the feasibility of deploying "discreet" surveillance cameras in the area, adding that it would keep monitoring the issue and would not hesitate to take enforcement action.
At least two other households in the 16-storey block have made multiple reports about the high-rise litter as well, according to residents CNA spoke to.
“But when we complain, NEA will put up cameras but the litterbug will just throw somewhere else,” said another couple, the Laus, who live in the block.
"It's really quite disturbing," they added.
HIGH-RISE LITTER A “DAILY OCCURRENCE”: RESIDENTS
While the sanitary pad litterbug strikes from time to time, residents lament that other forms of high-rise littering continue almost every day.
“Instead of pads, (there will be) instant noodles, tissue paper. I remember there was an occasion, the whole microwave oven came down. There was a loud bang,” said Mr Seah, a resident in his late 30s.
During a visit to the block on Thursday (Jan 14), CNA witnessed wet wads of tissue hitting the ground near the lift lobby three times within an hour. Used masks had also fallen to the ground in that time.
On top of that, Ms Lau added that she has seen birds feeding on litter such as cup noodles or food from McDonald's.
“It’s quite sad for the auntie who cleans in the morning,” she said.
Mr Seah added: “I pity the cleaners. (One of them) has to clean it every day with an umbrella, that’s the part where I feel it’s very unfair for them.”
An elderly resident who lives on a lower floor, Madam Lim, said she no longer dares to hang her clothes on the racks outside her window because her clean laundry has been soiled by discarded tissues before.
In response to queries from CNA, Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council confirmed it had previously received feedback from residents on the issue.
"Upon receiving our residents’ feedback, we promptly deployed our cleaners to clear the litter at regular intervals, and also referred the feedback to the relevant agency for further investigation and necessary follow-up, as with such acts of high-rise littering involving environmental public health.
"We will continue to work closely with the relevant agency to monitor the situation, and step up our cleaning frequency of the estate as an interim measure," the town council added.