Singapore

Residents to clean estates on April 26, 2020, as cleaners get day off

Initiative to reduce dependency on cleaners encourages residents to take responsibility for their neighbourhoods

One Sunday next year has been designated as a day off for cleaners islandwide for the first time, to get residents to take responsibility for the cleanliness of their neighbourhoods.

On April 26 next year, residents will help their town councils to clean their estates on CleanSG Day. This could include sweeping public spaces, combing for litter and clearing the rubbish bins - tasks that cleaners complete on a daily basis.

Led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), the initiative means there will be no cleaning done on that Sunday at public housing estates, which includes common areas like void decks and lifts. It will be part of the council's annual month-long Keep Clean, Singapore! campaign, a nationwide litter-picking initiative.

The PHC hopes to promote greater awareness on the amount of litter thrown indiscriminately and urge everyone not to do so, and reduce the dependency on cleaners.

The coordinating chairman for the PAP Town Councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin, confirmed that all 15 PAP Town Councils would be participating in CleanSG Day next year. He added that based on past events, residents were generally supportive of such initiatives and welcomed the gesture to thank the estate cleaners.

A spokesman for the opposition-held Aljunied-Hougang Town Council said it would meet the National Environment Agency in the first week of December to discuss the matter and would be able to elaborate then.

The novelty of the initiative and its infrequency concerned IT manager Daniel Sek, 52. He said people might not be aware of the event, and as such, cleaners will come back to work and find more rubbish than usual.

Nee Soon Town Council has held a No Cleaners Day for the past few years.

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng said: "Some residents are involved in the initiative every year. Our cleaners feel appreciated, and it gives the residents a chance to take ownership of their estate.

"It is important for us to understand that Singapore is not just a 'clean city' but a 'cleaned city'. The initiative helps residents understand how important our cleaners are."

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said her Nee Soon South ward does a small-scale version of No Cleaners Day every month for a particular zone. The initiative has improved the awareness of residents not to litter, she said.

"We can see this from the reduction of litter picked on the (constituency-wide) No Cleaners Day. In 2012 (when we started) it was nearly 1,500 kg, and for the past few years, it is around 200kg."

PHC chairman Edward D'Silva said the initiative would be continued if next year's up-scaled pilot is a success.

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