Singapore

Umbrella-sharing scheme launched in Bukit Batok

To get home, housewife Susan Lim, 60, has to brave thunderstorms or sweltering weather when crossing an unsheltered field in Bukit Batok.

"They should just build a covered walkway. Some of us have been suggesting it to our MP for years," said Ms Lim, who lives near Toh Guan Road.

But the land belongs to a private firm, plant nursery Sinflora. Efforts to fund a covered walkway have been ongoing for years, with the high cost of building one on private land a stumbling block. The interim solution: a stash of umbrellas at both ends, free for anyone to use while crossing the 100m-long field next to Toh Guan Park.

Launched last month, this community-sharing project was one of several new initiatives displayed during a ministerial community visit by Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung in Bukit Batok East yesterday.

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam, who hosted the event, said the stop-gap measure has seen its share of issues - from umbrellas clustering at one end of the field to residents who take them home.

Madam Rahayu said: "There are always going to be some teething problems, and it takes time to get everyone on board with the idea and develop a (sharing) culture. But it doesn't mean we should stop trying."

She said discussions with Sinflora are still ongoing.

The umbrella-sharing initiative has helped residents such as housewife Jasmine Toh, 50, who uses it thrice a week.

"It will work as long as residents return the umbrellas or help replenish them when they disappear," she said.

COMMUNITY ISSUES