It was a quiet Friday afternoon with no scheduled meetings to attend. Then an unusual number of calls and enquiries regarding PMD (Personal Mobility Device) disposal start coming in. “Is there something going on?” we thought. We started to check if our collection teams are on time for the usual PMD collection point set up for the evening. Things are ticking like clockwork on our end as far as we can tell.
The PMD evening collections is a national campaign that we have partnered with NEA and LTA to set up 88 free collection points across Singapore over the period spanning from Dec 2020 to 30 June 2021. We do this because we felt that this was important. Uncertified batteries in these PMD are ticking timebombs, posing a threat to the lives of Singaporeans. In the initial phase of the campaign, it was off to a slow start with only a handful of PMDs collection each evening. With more advertising efforts on radio and social media, it starts to pick up. However, things have not been easy on the ground. We felt great reluctance from some and some even vented their frustration on us as if we are forcing them to dispose their beloved PMD. Hope they now understand better.
It is then we received a link to a Straits Times article about a young man being seriously hurt by fire that was caused his PMD while he was in a lift. Unfortunately, he did not survive the injuries. Our deepest condolences to his friends and family.
This hit us hard.
There was a moment of silence. Then it was chaos. Everyone was coming up with ideas to increase the collections (at least until the end of the campaign). The response was unanimous, “we need to do this!” even though at the back of our minds we had concerns about cost, manpower, if we can cope and if NEA and LTA will be supportive. Nevertheless, we pushed on. Then I witness teamwork on unprecedented levels. In a short time, we posted a survey poll to gather interest from the public on the locations they would like to see us, called up the authorities to get the green light, answered questions from various news media and took care of panicking public calling and emailing us. By late evening we have the operations plans drawn up. We had increased our collections from 1 location each on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings to 2 locations each from Monday to Saturday until the end of June.
On that very evening, we see more than double the number of PMDs and we collected more than 300 PMDs in the following week. News media followed us on one of our collections and back to our company to understand the work behind it.
We sincerely hope that our efforts will prevent more PMD fire related tragedies from happening. We do not yet know for sure what will happen beyond 30 June and we are in talks with NEA and the upcoming PRS operator for the way forward.
Lastly, to anyone who is still in possession of PMDs which do not meet the UL2272 safety standard or are modified, please utilise one of our free collection locations to dispose them safely.