Barrier-free features added to hawker centres

We thank Mr Matthew Ong Koon Lock for his letter (Hawker centres need more wheelchair-friendly designs; Sept 4).

Our hawker centres, which were mostly built in the 1970s and early 1980s, have seen several improvements made to them.

During the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme, which was carried out from 2001 to 2013, the National Environment Agency (NEA) improved the amenities of the hawker centres, such as replacing sanitary and plumbing pipes, changing floor and wall tiles, improving lighting, as well as providing better fire safety features.

In addition, where possible, excess vacant stalls were demolished and the layout of the centre reconfigured so that bigger stalls and wider passageways were provided, within the constraints of each centre.

New features to assist the elderly and persons with disabilities, such as ramps and lifts, were also added to enhance barrier-free accessibility.

Since 2015, new hawker centres built by the Government come with similar features to assist the elderly and persons with disabilities. These design elements can already be seen in the new hawker centres at Ci Yuan, Bukit Panjang, Tampines, Yishun, Pasir Ris, Jurong West and Kampung Admiralty.

Recently, when repairs and redecoration works were carried out at Tiong Bahru Market, we introduced "Priority Seating", where the fixed stools at some tables were replaced with movable chairs with backrests to make it more user-friendly for patrons who may need them more than others, such as the elderly, patrons with mobility issues, parents with young children and pregnant patrons.

Priority tables and seats are clearly demarcated with stickers and are located in front of stalls for easy accessibility. For every three tables fronting stalls, there is at least one priority table to allow these patrons to be able to reach the priority seats easily regardless of which stall they buy food from.

The NEA appreciates the suggestions. We will continue to work closely with various stakeholders to improve our hawker centres.

Ivy Ong (Ms)

Director, Hawker Centres Division

National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Barrier-free features added to hawker centres'. Print Edition | Subscribe