S$3.6m scheme launched by Municipal Services Office for small-scale infrastructure work

Today Online 6 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE – A new S$3.6 million scheme will allow the Municipal Services Office (MSO) to help with small-scale infrastructure projects over the next two years, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in Parliament on Tuesday (March 6).

The Local Infrastructure Projects (LIP) scheme for small-scale infrastructure on State Land in 2018 will look into matters such as the installation of handrails at footbridges, and lighting along footpaths, for example.

Ms Fu said that while there are well established funding schemes such as the Land Transport Authorty’s (LTA) Walk2Ride Scheme and the Ministry of National Development’s (MND) Estate Upgrading Programme, “funding gaps for small-scale infrastructure at the local level do exist from time to time.”

As a result, the MSO piloted a small funding scheme in 2014 to plug the gap, and it received some 140 infrastructure requests. Minister Fu, who also oversees the MSO, said: “These are small scale but nevertheless important requests that make a positive different to residents’ daily living, such as having handrails up a footbridge crossing Geylang River, and lightings along a footpath near Punggol Point LRT station.”

The success of the pilot prompted the MSO to launch the LIP scheme, she added.

Besides the new scheme, the MSO also worked with other government agencies, Town Councils and residents to “reduce overlaps and duplications, plug gaps in the municipal landscapes and deliver better living experiences for our residents,” said Ms Fu.

The MSO was formed three years ago to improve coordination for cross-cutting issues between multiple agencies, such as the provision and maintenance of local infrastructure, and the hoarding of items in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats.

Minister Fu pointed out that government agencies, Town Councils and the MSO have made good progress in improving municipal service delivery. While it took 16 working days in end-2015 to resolve 90 per cent of “complex feedback involving multiple parties”, it now takes 11 working days.

The MSO’s OneService (OS) platform for residents to provide feedback and access information saw the number of registered users increasing by 43 per cent to 114,000 in 2017, while the number of cases submitted doubled to 153,000.

The OS App, which was introduced in 2015, had six reporting categories then for residents to report municipal issues to government agencies. That has expanded to 11 categories, and covers not just municipal issues under the purview of government agencies, but those of town councils and private entities. For instance, residents are now able to report indiscriminately parked share bicycles to the operators via the OS app.

In the coming year, residents will also be able to use the OS channels to perform transactions, participate in community events, and provide feedback and comments on local improvement programmes, said Ms Fu.

She added: “In the long term, we hope to make the OS channels a onestop platform to address their municipal needs comprehensively.”

While there are more efforts from agencies to work together, Ms Fu acknowledged that “there remain municipal issues falling in grey areas” that the MSO can help with.

She said that the MSO is focused on inter-agency processes that are not apparent to the public, such as dealing with pigeon-related nuisances, animal hoarding, and the management of outdoor areas.

In the case of pigeon-related matters, the town councils oversee the cleaning of common areas, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority takes enforcement action against pigeon feeders, while the National Environment Agency takes enforcement action if there is high-rise littering. The MSO helped to formulate end-to-end workflows to clarify roles and responsibilities, and tighten coordination in the handling of such cases, said Minister Fu.

She added: “Moving forward, MSO will continue to engage our residents and stakeholders to identify more of such grey areas where we can improve coordination and support the agencies and Town Councils in their efforts to serve residents better.”

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