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FairPrice deploys officers at Jurong Point outlets over missing trolleys

SINGAPORE — Every day, the two NTUC FairPrice outlets at Jurong Point mall lose 150 to 200 shopping trolleys, which is the highest number among all its outlets.

SINGAPORE — Every day, the two NTUC FairPrice outlets at Jurong Point mall lose 150 to 200 shopping trolleys, which is the highest number among all its outlets.

The trolleys are usually found abandoned at the void decks and grassy areas of the public housing blocks around the mall. These are then wheeled back by the supermarket chain’s employees three times a day, every day.

To tackle this problem, FairPrice started a three-month trial on Friday (Sept 2) at the mall in which its security officers would stop shoppers from carting away the trolleys.

Doubling up as enforcement officers, they will patrol the parameters of Jurong Point. Should they come across anyone trying to push trolleys beyond the mall grounds, they will talk to the person about trolley misuse and abandonment. However, they will not be able to make arrests.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, the chief executive officer of NTUC FairPrice, said that the trial would be “definitely better” than not doing anything. “To the extent of how much it will solve the problem, I am not sure, but I am quite sure that it will be an improvement on the status quo,” he said.

Mr Danny Lhu, an enforcement officer, said that most customers might not know that it is a crime to take away the trolleys, and he has to first educate them about this. If they remain adamant or are persistent in doing so, they would call in the authorities. The supermarket is also handing out flyers and putting up in-store and online messages as part of this education outreach, with Jurong Point helping to push out messages on social media as well.

As part of its community partnerships, FairPrice will be getting Jurong West Secondary School students to help distribute flyers. The Singapore Kindness Movement and Republic Polytechnic students will also put out a video on responsible trolley use.

Last year alone, FairPrice lost 1,000 trolleys, each costing about S$200. This is an increase from 800 trolleys five years ago. The supermarket giant has spent more than S$150,000 on trolley replacements and repairs, and the manpower needed to retrieve abandoned trolleys.

A survey it conducted in 2010 showed that the chief reasons shoppers did not return the trolleys they used was because they were lazy or it was inconvenient for them to do so due to heavy shopping bags.

Shoppers who wheeled the trolleys back to their homes told TODAY that they do not see trolley use beyond the mall premises as a problem. Madam Saridah Hajam, 54, a homemaker, said that she does it because she buys a lot of groceries, but would instruct her daughter to return the trolley after the shopping trip.

Another shopper, Madam Chia Yuet Har, said that the trolley is useful because of the many things she buys. Spending about S$180 and making two trips a day to the supermarket, the 62-year-old cleaner claimed that she would return the trolley after use. She suggested that FairPrice impose a deposit around the range of S$50 instead of the current S$1 for shoppers to use a trolley.

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