Measures to improve hawker centres

We thank Mr Thomas Ling ("Areas for improvement in hawker centres"; March7), Mr Heng Cho Choon ("Hawker centre revamps: Issues to consider"; last Thursday) and Ms Annie Ng Lee Hoon ("Marked improvement after renovation"; last Thursday) for their feedback on hawker centres.

We appreciate the various suggestions and will take them into consideration when planning our new hawker centres.

Our hawker centres were mostly built in the 1970s and early 1980s to resettle street hawkers. At that time, features such as the layout of the centres and stall sizes were dependent on the number of hawkers and the size of the centres they were housed in.

During the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme which was carried out from 2001 to 2013, the layout of the centres was improved and the size of the stalls increased where possible, within the constraints of each site.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) also improved the ventilation of some centres by installing additional fans and modifying the roof structure.

In the new hawker centres being built by the Government from last year, each stall will be bigger, of at least 10 sq m. The centres will have high ceilings to maximise natural ventilation, and wider passageways for the comfort of stallholders, patrons and cleaners.

These design elements can be seen in the new hawker centres in Hougang and Bukit Panjang, which opened for business in August and December last year respectively.

NEA has installed tray-return stations at all our hawker centres. We recognise that the tray-return stations in some hawker centres may not be at ideal locations, owing to site constraints, but those at the new centres will be better located and laid out.

NEA is also working closely with table-cleaning contractors to refine their cleaning workflow, so as to facilitate tray return by patrons.

While the availability of infrastructure such as tray-return stations is important, the success of the tray-return initiative depends very much on social graciousness and considerate behaviour. This is an ongoing effort, and everyone has a part to play to advocate and participate in tray return.

NEA will continue to work closely with various stakeholders to improve our hawker centres, so as to provide a clean and conducive dining environment for everyone.

Ivy Ong (Ms)

Director, Hawker Centres Division

National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Measures to improve hawker centres'. Print Edition | Subscribe