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Foo Jie Ying
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014

Singapore

MSO will help cut down hassle

The New Paper | Foo Jie Ying | Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014

How many cleaners does it take to clean a 15m wide pathway?

Give up? The answer: Three sets of cleaners hired by three different Government agencies.

Yes, it took that many to clean the pathway that leads to Bukit Gombak MRT station.

When a resident spotted a fishball stick that was not cleared after more than a day, she complained to her Member of Parliament Low Yen Ling.

It is unclear why the eagle-eyed resident did not consider picking up the stick herself.

But that proverbial stick in the mud sparked an investigation by Ms Low who called up the agencies that had a stake in the area.

This is what she learnt: The left of the pathway is managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The middle pathway, a park connector, is under the purview of the National Parks Board (NParks).

And the portion to the right belongs to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

It took the Chua Chu Kang GRC MP several calls and meetings before she found this out from the various agencies.

The different sides of the pathway had cleaners employed by different agencies and each has a its own cleaning schedule.

Some cleaned every day, others did it on alternate days.

That stick mischievously landed on a part of the pathway that was scheduled to be cleaned only once every two days.

But the overlapping duties are done with and NEA is now in charge of cleaning of the entire area.

Such inter-agency issues will now be directed to the new Municipal Services Office (MSO), said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech yesterday.

He called on different agencies to work more closely together, especially when responsibilities are split.

Not just with cleaning but when a snake is spotted.

"Which agency you call used to depend on where exactly the snake is found and which direction it is moving to," Mr Lee said. "Now, AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) is in charge of all animal issues."

The MSO is a single authority that will co-ordinate agencies like the LTA, PUB, NEA, NParks, HDB, AVA and the police - to solve problems that may involve many agencies.

Minister in Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, helped by Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan, will oversee the MSO.

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