Will Sungei Rd vendors survive at hawker stalls?

I am deeply concerned that efforts to help the Sungei Road market vendors relocate would actually push them to enter into high-risk ventures (Sungei Rd vendors receive more help; June 17).

The case of the vendors - for instance, Madam Tan Guo Mei - is worrying.

Although Madam Tan has been allocated a subsidised stall at Chinatown Market, she says she is uncertain if she will be able to make enough to pay the monthly rent, and goes back to Sungei Road to hawk her items on weekends.

If Madam Tan, who sells second-hand collectibles, which are goods that sell at higher prices, is in such a precarious situation, how are vendors who are selling lower-priced goods expected not to make a loss?

There are no details on the "start-up costs".

Most of the vendors likely have a low income and not much in savings. Will they have to borrow money for their new business ventures? How many vendors turned down the lock-up stalls at hawker centres because they are unable to fork out the money for one?

Is a hawker stall truly feasible as an alternative to doing business at the Sungei Road market? What do the 27 vendors who have been allocated stalls sell?

Relocating would displace the vendors and cause them to lose the "cluster effect" of having many businesses from the same industry in close proximity. Sticking together, vendors can enjoy some economies of scale and better their chances of survival.

What immediate and long-term business strategies does the National Environment Agency have in place to address the loss of the leverage the market provided?

What business considerations did the NEA make when making plans to relocate the vendors?

It will be more sustainable if the various government agencies worked with the stakeholders to find ways of rebooting the market and improving it.

Woon Tien Wei (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Will Sungei Rd vendors survive at hawker stalls?'. Print Edition | Subscribe