NEA needs to take hands-on approach in new scheme

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said the National Environment Agency is reviewing not-for-profit hawker centres after complaints from hawkers about high rents and being saddled with additional fees for services such as tray returns (NEA reviewing not-for-profit hawker centres; Oct 20).

She also said "NEA will not hesitate to take operators to task if they are found to be errant".

In a related report, operators interviewed said they made sure hawkers knew about fees upfront and NEA said "none of the operators has raised the rental or operating costs" (Teething problems with new hawker centre model, Oct 14).

So in what way are the operators errant?

I have other questions.

Why were the reported onerous terms and conditions of the hawker stall contract allowed to be foisted on to the hawkers? Did NEA not review the terms and conditions beforehand?

Do operators have a full say in running these "social enterprise" hawker centres, which were built with public funds?

Are these hawker centres operated in line with the 2011 hawker panel deliberations?

How long will NEA's review take? Will some form of interim assistance be extended to affected hawkers to relieve them of the onerous terms and conditions during the review period?

If the social enterprise hawker centre model is to continue, it is clear that NEA has to adopt a more proactive, hands-on approach to provide effective monitoring of operations.

Operators who do not subscribe to the not-for-profit philosophy should have no place in the scheme.

Tan Soon Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'NEA needs to take hands-on approach in new scheme'. Print Edition | Subscribe