Individualised assistance given to Sungei Road hawkers

We refer to the letters by Dr Woon Tien Wei, Mr Muhammad Faiz Zohri and Mr Darren Chan Keng Leong (Will Sungei Rd vendors survive at hawker stalls?, Market worked because vendors were together, and Put priority on helping vendors make transition; all published on June 21).

Since early this year, government agencies have proactively carried out both on-site and off-site engagement with Sungei Road Hawking Zone (SRHZ) users, the majority of whom are aged 40 to 65, on a one-on-one basis to understand their needs and to offer individualised assistance to help them transit after the closure of the SRHZ.

A significant number of them have told us that they do not require any assistance after the closure of SRHZ, as they are able to support themselves, have full-time jobs or operate at SRHZ only occasionally to pass the time.

All SRHZ users who are in need of help and have come forward are being assisted.

A sizable number of them are now receiving some form of government assistance, including significant rental and service and conservancy charge rebates, training on merchandising and display of items for sale, assistance in setting up their stall, and help with integration into the hawker centre community.

Other government agencies have also given financial and job placement assistance to SRHZ users.

Several of the users are now in stalls at the Chinatown market, the Golden Mile Food Centre and the Kreta Ayer flea market, all not far from SRHZ.

The National Environment Agency has also put up information on their new business locations so that their clientele and those who wish to buy second-hand goods can find them.

The government agencies have carefully considered the feedback and appeals received, and assessed that SRHZ users who wish to continue their trade can do so at appropriate venues such as hawker centres, which have better facilities and the necessary amenities for users to conduct their businesses, or existing flea markets, where these activities can be properly managed.

This is similar to how street hawkers in the past moved on to purpose-built hawker centres and markets.

We will continue to engage and support SRHZ users through their transition and ensure that necessary help is rendered even after the closure of SRHZ.

We also encourage the community to continue to support the SRHZ users by patronising their stalls in the hawker centres and the markets.

Adeline Leong Oi Kheng (Ms)

Director, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Individualised assistance given to Sungei Road hawkers'. Print Edition | Subscribe