SINGAPORE - Three new hawker centres will be opened in 2021 and early next year, adding vibrancy to Singapore's hawker culture.
The Bukit Canberra Hawker Centre in Canberra off Sembawang and the Fernvale Hawker Centre and Market in Sengkang are expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year as the construction of both centres were delayed by Covid-19.
Senja Hawker Centre in Bukit Panjang is expected to open early next year, said Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor on Thursday (March 4).
Socially-conscious enterprises will be appointed to manage all new hawker centres to help hawkers remain competitive in a tough food and beverage landscape, said Dr Khor.
The operators will curate food options and organise events to attract more footfall.
"We will work closely with the hawkers, operators and other stakeholders to refine the model," she added.
Dr Khor said that the successful inscription of Singapore's hawker culture to Unesco's heritage list in December was a "proud moment" for the nation, highlighting the importance of efforts to support hawkers and future-proof hawker centres.
As such, a Hawker Centres Transformation Programme will be developed to ensure a clean and safe environment at hawker centres, said Dr Khor.
She added that the programme will incorporate lessons from Covid-19 and to sustain Singapore's hawker culture.
"For example, aisles and tables will be better spaced to minimise crowding... (and) we will work towards deploying sensors for crowd monitoring and to facilitate maintenance," said Dr Khor.
This will create a more conducive environment for patrons, hawkers and cleaners, as well as to enhance the use of technology and to support digitalisation efforts, she added.
Sustainability will also be a priority. For instance, the Senja Hawker Centre will have features such as food waste digestion, rainwater harvesting and solar panels.
The programme will be implemented progressively at new hawker centres, and those currently undergoing redevelopment.
Noting that the average age of hawkers is now around 60 years old, Dr Khor said that there is a need to "act urgently" to sustain the hawker trade and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy Singapore's hawker culture.
One way of ensuring this would be through the Hawkers Succession Scheme, which aims to match retiring hawkers with new entrants to the profession, will be piloted this year.
An independent advisory panel, comprising members of the hawker community, will be convened to engage potential veteran hawkers and assess the successors' readiness to take over, said Dr Khor.
Such a scheme can facilitate the transfer of hawker stalls and recipes, so that hawker recipes can continue to live on, she added.