Stricter alcohol curb cuts crowds at Tekka

A stallholder at Tekka Food Centre informing patrons that he cannot sell alcohol after 6pm. Before this, customers could purchase and consume alcohol at the premises from 6am till midnight on Sundays, but the hours have now been shortened to 6pm.
A stallholder at Tekka Food Centre informing patrons that he cannot sell alcohol after 6pm. Before this, customers could purchase and consume alcohol at the premises from 6am till midnight on Sundays, but the hours have now been shortened to 6pm.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Tekka Food Centre is usually filled with patrons on weekends but crowds were thin yesterday evening after an alcohol ban extension kicked in.

Before this, customers could purchase and consume alcohol at the premises from 6am till midnight on Sundays, but the hours have now been shortened to 6pm.

Stallholders were informed of the extended ban last month through letters from police. Stallholders said the crowds usually peak around 7pm on Sundays, when many migrant workers get time off work.

Yesterday, stallholders who sold alcohol turned away patrons as the 6pm cut-off drew closer. The crowds dwindled as the evening wore on, and there were entire rows of empty seats at the food centre.

Police officers were seen patrolling the centre and handing out leaflets to inform patrons about the new rules. Residents The Straits Times spoke to cheered the move.

Mr Ricky Low, 70, a vegetable seller who lives beside the centre, said: "Usually weekends are so noisy and, frequently, there was fighting too. Now, it's quieter."

The outlook is gloomy for the 10 liquor licensees there. They were concerned that profits would suffer as Sundays are usually their busiest.

Ms Maureen Ho, 44, who runs the Little India Beer Stall, said that she usually prepares 20 crates of beer to sell on Sundays. "I loaded only 10 crates today but now I still have two crates and almost no time left to sell them," she said.

Some stallholders selling food said they also felt the sting of the extended ban. Madam May Goh, 55, who sells Western finger food, said business was visibly slower as people usually buy finger food to go with beer.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Melvin Yong, whose ward the food centre comes under, said he had received feedback on the large number of patrons who drink alcohol at the food centre on Sunday evenings, and submitted it to the police.

"Residents said they avoided the food centre on Sunday evenings as they were worried about encountering patrons who were drinking, especially those who appeared to be drunk or tipsy," he said.

Some customers, however, questioned the extended ban and asked whether it will be effective in tackling the concerns arising from drinking in the area. A 52-year-old train tunnel supervisor, who would only say his name is Kumar, said: "People can still buy alcohol and drink nearby."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2016, with the headline 'Stricter alcohol curb cuts crowds at Tekka'. Print Edition | Subscribe