Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth with regard to the massive traffic jams caused during the 2019 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon held from 29 November to 1 December 2019 (a) on what grounds have the road closure and diversion plans been approved; (b) whether consideration has been given to the three other major events happening downtown that weekend; and (c) how does the Ministry intend to review and enhance regulations and requirements for such future events.
Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) whether the Ministry has conducted a comparative review of the issues and disruptions that arose from the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2019 held from 29 November to 1 December 2019 in the evening for the first time, against previous years; (b) what are the learning points; (c) whether the Ministry anticipates any inconvenience to individuals near the SCSM 2020 event venue; and (d) whether any changes will be introduced to SCSM 2020 and similar events to mitigate the problems caused by SCSM 2019.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what are the reasons for the massive jams during the 2019 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon; (b) why has this situation not been anticipated; (c) what are the lessons learned; and (d) how can such massive jams be avoided in future large scale events such as marathons.
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth in light of the severe congestion caused by a recently held marathon (a) how does the Ministry balance the supporting of major sporting events and inconvenience to road users; (b) how can commercial organisers be made liable to mitigate against severe congestion; and (c) whether organisers who fail to address road congestion issues previously be prevented from running similar events in future.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth:
- The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) is the most anticipated race on Singapore’s running calendar and last year marked SCSM’s 18th edition. In order to create more conducive running conditions and a better race experience for participants, as well as bring more spectators out into the streets to enjoy the race, the SCSM was organised as an evening race for the first time on Saturday, 30 November 2019. There was a marked increase in the number of participants and spectators, with nearly 30,000 participants running in the marathon and half-marathon events, and more than 70,000 supporters cheering on the runners at the designated spectator zones and along the route.
- MCCY and SportSG supported this event as an opportunity to enhance the significance of the event for Singapore from a social, sporting and economic perspective. We aspire to showcase Singapore’s vibrancy and character to the world through SCSM as a World Marathon Majors event, alongside the iconic marathons held in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo. In Singapore, our runners participate in the SCSM to celebrate their resilience and purpose. There is a growing number championing worthwhile causes, such as those helping to raise awareness and funds for people with Parkinson’s and the disadvantaged in society. We would like to embrace a spirit of care, inclusion and resilience in our society by encouraging more Singaporeans to be a part of this year-end event.
- From the onset, SportSG and the organisers Ironman Asia recognised that the evening timing would be a complex and major undertaking and took the preparations seriously. Preparations for the SCSM 2019 began shortly after the conclusion of the 2018 event. A joint operations committee involving the organisers and various government agencies - such as LTA and the Traffic Police - was set up to develop and implement traffic plans and minimise inconvenience to the public. A detailed traffic impact study was conducted, and plans took into careful account accessibility for essential services such as hospitals and fire stations. Additional traffic measures were put in place in view of major concurrent events such as the U2 Concert at the Singapore Sports Hub and the Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay. SportSG also coordinated with the Singapore Tourism Board to engage affected businesses and stakeholders since the start of 2019, where road closure information was shared early with over 150 affected stakeholders to help with their own preparations.
- In the weeks leading up to the race, the event organiser ramped up road closure announcements on mainstream and social media platforms. It also beefed up call centre operations to address public queries on the road closures. On event day, 500 Auxiliary Police Officers were deployed at critical road junctions to redirect motorists and advise on alternative routes. Emergency services were facilitated through regardless of the road closures. Roads were progressively opened as the race proceeded, in as safe a manner as possible.
- MCCY takes the public feedback seriously. We will work with the event organiser and relevant agencies to study these points, including suggestions to de-conflict the SCSM with other major events, and the need to enhance public communications on the road closures. Given the scale of the Singapore Marathon and our ambition for it to be amongst the World Marathon Majors, we recognise that the logistics will pose inconvenience to stakeholders and members of the public in the initial years, and we will keep aiming to improve how future editions are organised. But we hope that with the support of Singaporeans and by working closely with partners, we can build up the SCSM into an event that all Singaporeans can be proud of and look forward to.