GE2015: Demand for tents more than what rental companies can supply

Workers setting up a makeshift tent at a parking space beside a showroom in Yishun.
Workers setting up a makeshift tent at a parking space beside a showroom in Yishun. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With the 2015 General Election coinciding with the Chinese seventh month, continuing islandwide SG50 celebrations, as well as the upcoming Formula One Singapore Grand Prix later this month, business has been brisk for tentage rental companies.

In fact, there has been greater demand than the companies can handle, with several companies having to turn customers away.

"The demand this time of the year compared to previous years is very different," said Ms Katherine Lee, director of Singapore Tentage.

"A lot of companies are organising events around SG50. A lot of our partners in the industry have run out of tentage materials and we've had to push away a lot of jobs," she said.

"Many of our workers have had to work until late into the night to set up tentage with just a few hours of rest before they have to get back to work."

Mr Ivan Ho, operation manager of Lian Hup Seng Construction, said: "We are fully-booked. We had a lot of requests to set up rally sites but could not take up even one such job."

Ms Lee said that because of the high demand - business has improved by about 50 per cent - and shortage of manpower, it was inevitable that costs were raised by about 20 to 30 per cent.

An employee from Seng Heng Tentage Rental who declined to be named said workers have to be compensated for working longer hours.

"Trust is very important in our industry. If we take on a job, we have to be sure we set everything up before the event starts," she said.

Mrs Lina Chiam, chairman of the Singapore People's Party, has said that the timing of the election has made it "rather challenging for the opposition".

The Potong Pasir SMC hopeful said that costs of holding a rally have doubled. While it cost her party about $3,000 to hold a rally during the 2011 General Election, she has been quoted at least $4,500 for a rally site this election - excluding the cost of barricades, which she estimated would bring the final cost up to about $6,000.

Mr Ho estimates that it costs about $2,000 to set up a rally site, and said that most tentage companies rely on the revenue from the Chinese seventh month to tide them over the lull from November to March.