Tuesday 29 November 2016

Our Tampines Hub: Six government agencies under one roof

First-of-its-kind Public Services Centre a key feature of new lifestyle and community hub
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 28 Nov 2016

A new community and lifestyle hub in Tampines with some services operating round the clock was officially opened yesterday.

A key feature of the sprawling Our Tampines Hub, which sits on 5.3ha of land - the size of about seven football fields - is a first-of-its-kind Public Services Centre housing six government agencies under one roof.

This means residents can register for People's Association (PA) activities or pay Housing Board-related fees like mortgage payments or parking fines at a 24-hour e-lobby.

For more complicated tasks like job matching or getting financial assistance, several officers from PA, HDB and the other agencies - North East Community Development Council, Workforce Singapore, Ministry of Social and Family Development and ActiveSG - will be on duty, some up to 10pm.

These agencies were picked based on how often Tampines residents used their services, and more may come on board if needed.

Other 24/7 offerings at the hub include an 800-seat hawker centre, which has 42 stalls and an automated tray return station.

The hub, which was five years in the making, also houses a shopping mall, community health centre, the first HomeTeamNS clubhouse in the east and a community auditorium with 20 badminton courts - and is an example of how future community hubs could look like.

It is located at the site of the former Tampines Stadium and Sports Hall, which was demolished to make way for the hub, which is expected to benefit some 200,000 residents in Tampines.

The hub will also put into practice sustainable lifestyle habits, like working towards generating zero waste. The expected 1.4 tonnes of daily food waste it produces can be converted to fertiliser, liquid nutrients or non-potable water, using an advanced food-waste recycling system.

The nutrient-rich fertiliser will then be distributed free to residents who need it.

Yesterday, the National Environment Agency and North East CDC also launched "I Love My Food @ North East", a campaign which, among other things, will see all Tampines families get a guidebook on reducing food wastage.

While more can be done to tackle the large amount of food Singaporeans throw away, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, an MP for Tampines GRC, said the recycling system is one way to mitigate the problem.

He told residents: "Zero waste also means a significant reduction in pollution as well as manpower resources required to transfer waste from the hub to landfills and incinerators on a daily basis."

He later encouraged people to watch their food portions to reduce wastage, saying: "A lot of food doesn't mean more satisfaction."

Mr Masagos was the guest of honour at the hub's opening, which marked the completion of the first of three phases. The hub, which will also have six swimming pools and a five-storey library, is expected to be fully operational by next August.

Residents welcomed the hub's opening. Said recently retired secretary Patricia Ang, 62: "It is good to have more options in Tampines so that it becomes vibrant, and more 24-hour foodstalls mean that my son has no excuse to skip dinner if he comes home late."

North East District Mayor Teo Ser Luck, former minister Mah Bow Tan - who introduced the hub as part of the town's five-year masterplan in 2011 - and Tampines GRC MPs Baey Yam Keng, Desmond Choo and Cheng Li Hui were also present.

Surprise video from Heng Swee Keat at event
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 28 Nov 2016

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat may be avoiding crowds as he recovers from a stroke, but he still took part in the opening of a new community and lifestyle hub in Tampines with a surprise video.

Mr Heng, an MP for Tampines GRC, credited residents with giving ideas on what the hub should have. He also thanked the team that made the hub possible, including architects, fellow MPs in the GRC, and former Cabinet minister Mah Bow Tan, who introduced the idea for such a hub in 2011 as part of the constituency's five-year masterplan.

"This is a place where we grow up, a place where we build bonds with one another," said Mr Heng.

The minister, who was discharged six weeks after he suffered a stroke at a Cabinet meeting on May 12, appeared fresh and energetic, albeit on the thin side. He has returned to work, but has been advised to stay away from crowds as he regains his immunity.

He thanked former MP Sin Boon Ann and volunteers for helping him out with his grassroots work, as well as residents for their get-well wishes. "Your greetings meant a lot to me and my family, and I want to thank you for your encouragement and your many encouraging words. I look forward to seeing all of you soon," Mr Heng added.

Fellow GRC MP and Cabinet colleague Masagos Zulkifli later said he was not sure when Mr Heng could resume attending grassroots events, adding: "He still needs time to recuperate."

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