Making a clean sweep at Geylang Serai Bazaar

Stalls being dismantled at the Geylang Serai Bazaar just after 5am yesterday as the event drew to an end. Given the high traffic and volume of rubbish usually generated on the bazaar's final night, trash collections are made three times instead of on
Stalls being dismantled at the Geylang Serai Bazaar just after 5am yesterday as the event drew to an end. Given the high traffic and volume of rubbish usually generated on the bazaar's final night, trash collections are made three times instead of one.ST PHOTO: JOSE HONG

Visitors to this year's Geylang Serai Bazaar had to contend with music blaring from speakers, stall vendors shouting about their wares and heaving crowds as hundreds jammed into the narrow lanes.

But they could not have missed how surprisingly clean the venue was for the most part. Around 1.4 million visitors were expected to descend on about 950 stalls.

In contrast, rubbish has piled up at other big events, such as the Laneway Festival, which made the news in January last year and in 2015 for the trash left behind by partygoers.

Ms Tay Jin Ying, a manager at TLK Maintenance Services, which manages the trash for about 450 of the stalls at the bazaar, said her firm ensures that there are always enough easily accessible rubbish bins in the area. This year, it deployed around 60 650-litre bins in total, with at least 45 in use at any one time.

Mr Eric Wong, who chairs the Geylang Serai Citizens Consultative Committee, said 10 to 12 grassroots volunteers also walked the grounds from about 8pm until 10.30pm to ensure that the bazaar ran smoothly, safely and tidily.

Ms Tay said the bazaar generates the most trash on the final night. As a result, instead of one collection taking place after midnight, three rounds are carried out, at around 4am, 8am and the latest by 11am.

This year, the number of workers was also increased from six to 60.

The Straits Times visited the venue three times over the final four nights, and saw large bins spaced regularly and near one another.

Patrons and vendors who spoke to The Straits Times said they found the place to be generally clean.

Yesterday marked the last operating morning of the bazaar, and, just after 5am, most vendors were dismantling their stalls as the last of the visitors strolled away.

Administrative assistant Atiqah Suhartini Rusli, 23, said that the bazaar was not very dirty, and that tidiness levels were about the same as those at other night markets here.

However, she said it was quite impressive, considering how much bigger the Geylang Serai Bazaar was.

Hospitality worker Mohamed Alfiee Md Kassim, 39, said that the final night of the bazaar was "quite messy", but that it was understandable, with everyone packing up.

"You can't compare this with the other pasar malams because they are just smaller," he said.

Stall vendors did not complain much either. Student Reuben Huang, who sold speciality durian snacks, said the cleanliness level was about the same as for other pasar malams.

Referencing the high rents for this year's bazaar, the 16-year-old quipped: "You pay so much here, they'd better have high standards."

The Sunday Times reported on June 11 that food stall rentals at the bazaar had gone as high as $17,000 for a single 9ft by 9ft space. One food vendor said he paid $15,000 last year and $10,000 the year before.

Mr Mohd Ridzuan Zainol helped out at a stall that sold traditional Malay finger food. He said that the bazaar was better than before in terms of tidiness. The 31-year-old bartender said: "If we talk about safety, cleanliness and accessibility, then I give it four stars."

Jose Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Making a clean sweep at Geylang Serai Bazaar'. Print Edition | Subscribe