Two trade fairs in Aljunied GRC lack proper licences, told by NEA not to commence

Two operators of trade fairs in Aljunied GRC did not meet the requirements for licences and have been told not to commence business, the National Environment Agency said on Friday night.

While the Hougang Central Hub fair has been cancelled, the trade fair at Kovan City has gone ahead without a licence.

Both areas are under the care of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), which manages communal spaces and leases them to trade fair organisers for a fee.

Earlier this month, AHPETC received a petition from business owners unhappy with the frequency and duration of trade fairs at Hougang Central Hub. That led town council chairman Sylvia Lim to say it was "prepared to review the schedule and events for next year".

Responding to Straits Times queries, an NEA spokesperson said on Friday: "NEA noted that the operators of two trade fairs at Kovan City and Hougang Central Hub did not apply for the required licences. A reminder was sent to the Town Council and the operators on Nov 19."

Incomplete applications were submitted by Event Business Management for the Kovan City fair on Nov 20, and JO Group for the Hougang Central Hub fair on Nov 21. The operators were sent reminders on Nov 22, which is when JO Group withdraw its application, said NEA.

However, the trade fair at Kovan City went ahead on Nov 22 without a licence, and a letter of intended enforcement was sent to EBM last Sunday. The Straits Times understands that EBM did not get approval from the Kovan Merchants Association prior to starting the trade fair, and is now in the process of getting it.

Mr Dennis Ong, general manager of EBM declined to comment. Stall owners at Kovan City, however, said they were not aware of any problems and that they would continue to operate there.

Operators of trade fairs must get approval from the local stakeholders to use the site as well as show that they can comply with various regulatory requirements, including public hygiene and safety, said NEA.

These documents include the list of stall holders, copy of agreement for waste collection, contract with cleaning contractor, approval letter from SCDF, and letter of consensus from neighbourhood shopkeepers or merchants' association.

NEA said that those in breach are liable of a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Between 2011 and November this year, NEA took 11 enforcement actions against operators for operating a fair without a valid licence. It said there are currently four licenced fairs in operation.