Jurong fire: Makeshift market to be ready before CNY

Stallholders who lost their livelihoods in a Jurong fire last week will have a temporary market ready for them before Chinese New Year.

Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng, who held a closed-door meeting with 26 stallholders yesterday, said a majority of them - more than 80 per cent of those who turned up - had agreed to take up stalls in the market.

Stallholders will pay a rent of $800 a month, excluding utilities and conservancy charges, similar to what they pay currently.

The temporary market is part of a plan to help stallholders, after a fire swept through a wet market and coffee shop at Blocks 493 and 494 last Tuesday.

A 41-year-old man was arrested last Thursday for allegedly starting the fire.

Rebuilding a new permanent market is expected to take more than a year.

Demolition of Block 493, which housed the wet market, started yesterday and will take about three weeks to complete, said the Housing Board.

Stallholders, however, were unable to retrieve items from their stalls as the building structure had worsened over the past few days.

Allowing them to enter the site would have endangered their lives, said HDB, adding that even the workers belonging to an HDB- appointed professional engineer were barred from going in.

The demolition will start from the roof.

Long-arm crushers and excavators will be used to bring down the roof, and crush and flatten the building.

A small section of Carpark J54, near Blocks 493 and 494, will be boarded up to facilitate the works, which will be carried out from Monday to Saturday between 8am and 7pm.

Police officers will be around to maintain order at the site.

HDB said it will "do its best" to minimise inconvenience to surrounding residents.

Only four stallholders have taken up an offer of alternative stalls by the National Environment Agency, which would allow them to resume business within a month. These stalls are mostly located in the west.

A job fair featuring 16 employers, mostly from the food and beverage industry, will also be held next Thursday at Jurong Green Community Club to help affected stallholders.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Jurong fire: Makeshift market to be ready before CNY'. Print Edition | Subscribe