Monday, November 23, 2009

Tampines residents get peek

TAMPINES scored top marks for its lifts, but needs to improve in other areas before next year’s report card on Housing Board estates.

The Tampines Town Council gave residents a peek at its preliminary results at a town hall forum yesterday, in a bid to get residents more involved in the running of the estate and boost its grades by the time the final Town Council Management Report is released.

The nationwide benchmarking exercise of all town councils, which manage 900,000 HDB flats, began on Oct 1.

The report on the 14 town councils run by the People’s Action Party and the two run by the opposition, is due by June next year.

It will judge HDB estates on a set of six indicators related to cleanliness, maintenance, the performance of lifts and how councils deal with arrears in service and conservancy charges.

In each category, they will be graded from level one – the best grade – to five.

The first round of surveys was conducted by the HDB last month. The Tampines Town Council, however, is the only one so far to make its grades public.

It did best on lifts, recording nearly no breakdowns. It also got a good grade for arrears management, with overdue payments making up only 27.4 per cent of the conservancy fees collected each month. Only 3 per cent of all households failed to pay their fees on time.

Its worst grade was in estate maintenance. With an average of 5.7 defects per block, it scored only a level three. Cleanliness got a level two, with an average of 3.1 cleanliness problems per block.

To get the top grade, the blocks cannot have more than two maintenance defects or cleanliness problems.

Speaking at the forum alongside fellow Tampines GRC MPs, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the main reason for sharing the results was to get residents more engaged in the estate.

The scores obtained, he said, ultimately reflected on the residents too.

Citing cleanliness, he said: ‘Cleanliness is not only a matter of how many cleaners we deploy, how the cleaners work, how efficient the cleaners are.

‘The cleaner can be very efficient but if residents continue to litter, then that particular part of the estate is going to be very dirty.’

Mr Mah said the results so far show there is room for improvement.

But the minister also stressed that the benchmarking exercise was not meant to rank the different councils.

‘Different town councils will have different profiles. There are estates which are newer, estates which have undergone upgrading, and so on.

‘You cannot compare across estates, but it gives town councils a sense of how it is doing over time,’ he said.

Tampines residents yesterday welcomed the move to involve residents in the upkeep of their estates.

Said Mr Foo Kuen Hin, 62, who works for a building maintenance firm: ‘It’s a good idea to let residents know the performance of the town council and how we can play a part.’

Town councils aside, Mr Mah also said a new five-year plan for Tampines was being drawn up and would be unveiled next year. He was responding to a question at the forum on what the constituency would be like in the future.

But he dismissed speculation that this could mean a general election was imminent. The new plan is coming out because the old one, set out in 2005, is expiring, he said. He added: ‘For a five-year plan, we need to reveal it after five years, right?’

Source: Straits Times, 23 Nov 2009

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