FROM slapping higher fines on litterbugs to mobilising volunteers to help deter them, Singapore has a range of measures in place in its efforts to keep the country clean.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) issued about 19,000 tickets for littering last year, almost double the number in 2013. Of the total, 31% were issued to non-residents.
On April 1 last year, the Environmental Public Health Act was amended to deter those who continued to act irresponsibly. Under the revised Act, the maximum fine for littering offenders was doubled to S$2,000 (RM5,250) for a first conviction.
Those who persist can be fined S$4,000 (RM10,5000) for their second conviction and S$10,000 (RM26,270) for their third and subsequent convictions.
The courts may also impose Corrective Work Orders (CWOs) requiring offenders to clean public areas for up to 12 hours. Last year, the courts issued 688 CWOs.
CWO was introduced in 1992 to shame litterbugs. The first 10 litterbugs to carry out CWOs were made to clean up part of the East Coast beach on Feb 21, 1993, in front of the media. It worked, with the authorities saying the number of littering offences had dipped.
Earlier this month, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said the NEA is committed to stepping up enforcement of littering rules.
Since the community volunteer scheme was launched in 2013, 259 volunteers from civic groups such as the Singapore Environment Council and the Cat Welfare Society have joined the volunteer corps.
The volunteers successfully engaged 830 litterbugs, persuading them to bin their trash. Ten cases of enforcement action were taken.
These volunteers can take down the particulars of litterbugs and give the details to the authorities if they refuse to pick up and bin their trash even after being asked to do so.
The Government is considering giving these community volunteers the power to fine litterbugs. In Nee Soon South, for example, cleaners are given a day off on Labour Day every May 1 – also its annual No Cleaners Day – while residents step in to clean up their estate.
Last year, 500 people, including students and representatives of the area’s merchant groups, combed 164 blocks of flats and picked up 500kg of litter. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network