Sengkang Residents’ Rubbish Chutes Choked Over 6 Days, Town Council Says SembWaste Penalised By NEA

Over the New Year, more people would tend to organise gatherings at home, thereby creating more trash.

Some Sengkang residents, however, would have had problems disposing their trash down their rubbish chutes as they were choked due to trash collection delays.

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The reason for the delays has now been revealed: An “unprecedented number of breakdowns” caused insufficient rubbish trucks to serve the area.

SembWaste has now committed to deploy additional backup trucks and manpower to the estate.

Waste collection delay for 6 days in Anchorvale

In a letter to residents on Friday (19 Feb), Sengkang Town Council (SKTC) provided an update on the delay in waste collection for 6 days.

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The lapse occured in the Anchorvale ward from 31 Dec 2020 to 5 Jan 2021.

However, SKTC said that it became aware of potential issues a few days before that, on 26 Dec.

It then alerted SembWaste, which is the public waste collector appointed by the National Environment Agency for the area.

Waste accumulates in refuse chutes

Unfortunately, due to the delay in collection, Anchorvale residents experienced choked rubbish chutes.

One resident who lives in Anchorvale Vista posted about the problem on Facebook on 4 Jan.

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He said his rubbish chute was choked till the 4th floor, and no trucks were collecting rubbish.

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In his post, he also tagged the NEA, Anchorvale Member of Parliament Jamus Lim and ahem, former MP Lam Pin Min.

‘Unprecedented’ number of truck breakdowns

In SKTC’s letter, 2 reasons were given for the trash collection delay.

One was an “unprecedented number of breakdowns” of the rubbish collection trucks that serve the estate.

This started on 31 Dec, and even the backup fleet was affected.

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This meant that not enough trucks were collecting rubbish in the estate.

Duty execs didn’t divert trucks from other areas

The 2nd reason was blamed on the duty executives at SembWaste.

They didn’t re-route trucks from other areas, SKTC said.

Neither did they prioritise areas that blocks where rubbish hadn’t been collected yet.

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Worse still, some of the backup drivers were unfamiliar with Anchorvale area.

Service restored within a day for majority of blocks

In a Facebook post on Friday (19 Feb), Dr Lim acknowledged that some residents were unable to access the central refuse chute to dispose of their rubbish.

He also added that SKTC worked with NEA and SembWaste to solve the issue, and regular service was restored within a day for “the vast majority” of affected blocks.

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He said he prefers not to point fingers but find ways to avoid future issues.

For example, SKTC has refined protocols to ensure that in when trucks go missing, cleaners will report that to managers who will tell NEA and SembWaste.

That’s despite NEA, being a government agency, and SembWaste, being an external vendor, not falling under the control of SKTC.

NEA has penalised SembWaste

For the service lapses, the NEA has penalised SembWaste, SKTC said.

However, it didn’t mention what penalty the company had incurred.

It did say that SembWaste will deploy additional backup trucks and manpower to serve Anchorvale’s needs.

The company will also:

  1. Ensure priority is assigned properly should there be future breakdowns
  2. Increase training for drivers so they’ll be familiar with routes

Minimising inconvenice to residents

As residents pay service and conservancy charges, it’s not surprising that they’ll expect essential services like trash collection to be seamless.

However, it’s good that SKTC has provided updates on the situation so that residents aren’t left in the dark.

Hopefully, SembWaste will ensure that such lapses won’t occur again, especially during festive seasons.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook and Facebook.