Some Chong Boon Market tenants unhappy with narrow stalls, short re-opening notice

Fishermonger Madam Linda Kwok, 56, trying to negotiate her way around the tight space at her stall in Chong Boon Market on Oct 31, 2016.
Fishermonger Madam Linda Kwok, 56, trying to negotiate her way around the tight space at her stall in Chong Boon Market on Oct 31, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Fishermonger Madam Linda Kwok, 56, cleaning her stall in Chong Boon Market on Oct 31, 2016.
Fishermonger Madam Linda Kwok, 56, cleaning her stall in Chong Boon Market on Oct 31, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
The wide walking space at Chong Boon Market which stall owners complained about, saying it could have been space given to widen their stalls.
The wide walking space at Chong Boon Market which stall owners complained about, saying it could have been space given to widen their stalls. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Preparation for reopening at a stall that sells pork in Chong Boon Market on Oct 31, 2016.
Preparation for reopening at a stall that sells pork in Chong Boon Market on Oct 31, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - A spanking new market is due to reopen in Ang Mo Kio tomorrow (Nov 1) after a six-month revamp, but some of its stallholders are not happy.

Tenants of Chong Boon Market find their new stalls too narrow, with a fishmonger lamenting that she has to "do a crab-walk" to get behind the counter at her stall.

They also claim that the two weeks they were given to prepare their stalls for the reopening was too short.

An upgrading of the market at 453A Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, which was built over 30 years ago, started on May 1 and ended yesterday(oct 31).

When The Straits Times visited the market yesterday (oct 31), many of the stallholders were moving things into their stalls, although some shops remained empty.

Mr Wee Lay Keong, 40, a second-generation chicken seller, said he only found out how narrow his two stalls were when he was handed the keys on Oct 15.

The distance from the storefront to the back is about 1.5m, compared to 2.4m prior to the revamp, he said.

A chiller for his chickens takes up about 1.2m, leaving him with just about 30cms of space to move about behind it.

"I don't even have enough space to chop my chickens," added Mr Wee, pointing to a row of pipes that run along the back of the stall, taking up some of the precious space he has. "When I chop, my arm will hit the pipes."

Madam Linda Kwok, 56, a fishmonger of nearly 20 years at the market, had to shave off about 25cms of the table on which her fish are displayed, so that she can fit behind it.

"I have to walk sideways, like a crab, just to enter my stall," she said.

Stallholders noted that tenants of a nearby market at Block 409 which also underwent a revamp were given about a month to prepare for its reopening, compared to the two weeks for Chong Boon Market tenants.

"It's too little time. We need time to install shutters, put up tables and get permits for the electricity and water supply," said a fruit seller who declined to be named. This could mean that not all the stalls will be open tomorrow, she added.

Now, stallholders are hoping the authorities will allow them to place their goods outside their stalls, even though it may obstruct the walkways.

Fruit sellers said they are currently not allowed to hang bunches of bananas outside their stalls, a rule that they hope will be relaxed. Mr Wee, whose chiller juts out slightly from the edge of one of his stall, said: "I hope the authorities will 'close one eye' and let it pass."

When asked about the issues raised by stallholders, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it has received feedback from two stallholders about the size of their stalls. But both their stalls were actually bigger after the renovation.

NEA added that the size of the market stalls prior to the renovation works were 3 sq m. Now, they range between 4.5 sq m and 5.4 sq m.