Published: 20 March 2018
Question: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many cases of small fires on expressways or roads have been reported in the last five years; and (b) how many of these fires have been caused by errant motorists or motorcyclists who throw their cigarette butts onto the central dividers or roadside plants and trees.
1. Mr Speaker, the SCDF only started keeping records of roadside vegetation fires from 2014. Between 2014 and 2017, SCDF attended to about 350 such fires annually. Most of these fires were caused by cigarette butts.
2. SCDF leads an inter-agency taskforce to deal with vegetation fires. Among other measures, the National Environment Agency regularly clears the roads of dry leaves, which are more susceptible to catching fire.
3. But no amount of clearing will help, if some members of the public continue to illegally and irresponsibly discard cigarette butts. Such persons can be charged under the Environmental Public Health Act for littering at the least, and if we can prove the fact that the fires also caused serious damage, such persons can be charged under the Penal Code for fire-related offences. We encourage the public to report such offences via NEA's website, its mobile app, or its hotline.