Sungei Road hawkers seek alternative site

Mr Koh Ah Koon with banners seeking signatures to support the conservation of the Sungei Road flea market. His Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods represents about 70 vendors at the site.
Mr Koh Ah Koon with banners seeking signatures to support the conservation of the Sungei Road flea market. His Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods represents about 70 vendors at the site.PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Sungei Road flea market's last day of operation is on July 10, but the hawkers are hoping for an alternative or temporary site.

Yesterday, Mr Koh Ah Koon, 76, president of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods, unfurled a banner in Sungei Road calling for the site to be conserved.

Speaking to The Straits Times later, Mr Koh said he was saddened but hopes an alternative site can be allocated. "We don't need a permanent location and can move. We hope the Government can give us a temporary site so that our lifestyle and this aspect of local heritage can be retained."

He said he has printed 10 banners and plans to collect signatures till July to support calls for the site to be "conserved" or retained. He had collected about 200 signatures as of yesterday evening.

 
 

In a multi-agency statement on Feb 14, the Government said the free hawking zone has to make way for future residential developments.

Mr Koh's association, which represents about 70 of 200 vendors at the flea market, had previously proposed four alternative sites - next to Rochor River, at Kampong Bugis along Kallang River, behind Sim Lim Tower, and a roadside near Jalan Kubor Malay cemetery.

The authorities had said that the four sites had been zoned for parks and residential use under Master Plan 2014.

After the Government announcement, the association submitted a fresh appeal to extend the deadline until the year end. If that fails, it intends to secure a temporary site in Jalan Besar behind a hawker centre.

The Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods was established in 2012 after the Sungei Road Free Hawking Zone was reduced in size in 2011 to make way for the Downtown Line construction.

Mr Kalay V., 45, a businessman who signed the petition, said: "This (flea market) provides the elderly hawkers a legitimate source of income and can be seen as an engagement programme for seniors - not that different from those run by community centres."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Sungei Road hawkers seek alternative site'. Print Edition | Subscribe