Chinatown Food Street shophouses a death trap

Half of Smith Street in Chinatown has been converted into the Chinatown Food Street, a very popular place for dining alfresco.

The food street is flanked by two rows of shophouses that are two- or three-storeys high.

The upper levels are accessed by a side wooden staircase, and are rented to associations that hold regular activities like talent shows and karaoke.

Being an attendee at one of these activities, I have come to realise that these shophouses could be death traps.

A fire could break out on the ground floor, perhaps caused by the gas tanks the eateries and hawkers use for cooking.

The wooden staircase could catch fire, rending the occupants on the upper floor unable to escape, as there is no other exit to the building.

I hope some form of fire prevention will be put in place.

Perhaps the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Singapore Civil Defence Force could consider the following:

First, install two big fire extinguishers in each building, especially on the wooden staircase.

Second, ensure the occupiers of these buildings have a $1 million or $2 million public liability insurance, in case of injury or death to occupants due to a fire.

Ronald Lee Yew Kee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Chinatown Food Street shophouses a death trap'. Print Edition | Subscribe