Help continues to pour in for the 51 stallholders who lost their livelihoods in the fire that ravaged a wet market and two coffee shops in Jurong West earlier this month.
Nearly half of the $600,000 needed to pay for a temporary market has been raised through donations from businessmen and community partners, it was announced yesterday at a job fair to help displaced stallholders find interim employment or long-term jobs.
Of the $280,000 collected, $200,000 came from 11 businessmen who are patrons and friends of the Jurong Central Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC), said its chairman, Mr Henry Ho.
Mr Ho said that fund-raising for the temporary market, which will be built at a basketball court in front of Block 498, is a "ground up" effort that will also involve local schools. The Government plans to build a permanent market but that is expected to take more than a year.
On Oct 11, a fire razed a wet market and coffee shop at Block 493 Jurong West Street 41, and damaged a coffee shop at the adjacent Block 494.
A 41-year-old man has been charged with starting the blaze.
Yesterday's job fair, organised by grassroots organisations and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), was also open to residents in the Jurong Central area.
NTUC FairPrice, BreadTalk and Food Republic were among 16 participating firms that offered 800 jobs in the retail, and food and beverage sectors. Affected stallholders were also offered an employability skills training workshop and a vocational skills training course by e2i.
Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng said: "Stallholders have to wait for the new market to be ready, so they need a full-time job for maybe the next one year or two.
"Those who are waiting for the temporary market to be ready, as well as the Block 494 coffee shop, which will take a while before it can be renovated, can also look for part-time or temporary jobs."
Building plans for the 30-stall temporary market have been submitted for approval, and five contractors have submitted quotations, he added.
Mr Tom Zeng, 47, who lost his you tiao stall at the Block 494 coffee shop, was at the fair with his wife looking for a temporary job.
"We used to make $4,000 to $5,000 a month at the stall, so with any part-time job, we will have to cope with the shortfall," said the father of two. "I've been relying on savings, but I'm worried because I don't know when that will run dry."
Mr Harold Michael Teo, 70, who ran a Peranakan food stall at the same coffee shop for three years, plans to take the vocational course to upgrade his hawker skills, and is considering a part-time job.
"It has not been easy to adjust; it's a bit shocking to have years of hard labour gone," said Mr Teo, who is the sole breadwinner of his family.
"Being a hawker is not easy, but it gives you purpose. Hopefully, we can re-open our stall by Christmas."