Our Tampines Hub hawker centre to stop 24/7 service

The Our Tampines Hub Hawker Centre is among seven hawker centres under the social enterprise hawker model.
The Our Tampines Hub Hawker Centre is among seven hawker centres under the social enterprise hawker model.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Last 13 hawkers running 24-hour stalls take up option by centre to stop doing so from Jan 1

The Our Tampines Hub Hawker Centre - the only one out of 114 here to operate round the clock - will not have any of its current 42 hawkers serving food and drinks in the wee hours from January.

The remaining 13 hawkers at the centre who are now operating 24 hours daily have taken up an offer from the operator allowing them to stop doing so from Jan 1.

The other 29 hawkers had earlier ceased 24-hour operations.

There had been complaints in recent months from some hawkers at the centre over having to operate in the wee hours despite low footfall.

Stallholders had inked contracts with the centre's operator, OTMH, the social enterprise arm of foodcourt giant Kopitiam, that stipulated the 24-hour operation requirement.

A spokesman for Kopitiam said the company held a dialogue with stallholders two weeks ago and none opted to continue with 24-hour operations.

"From next year onwards, the hawker centre won't be operating on a 24-hour basis," he added.

 
 

Some of the 13 hawkers who took up the option told The Straits Times that the move will give them more flexibility, and even reduce costs.

Mr Afzal Ali Bhatti, 42, owner of Indian food stall Best Zaika, said he will cut his hours to 16 a day, citing low footfall at some hours of the day.

"If we sign up for 24 hours, sometimes the extra food we make just 'sits' there. And sometimes even when we have finished selling the food, we still have to keep (the stall) open."

Meanwhile, Mr Andrew Hwang, a hawker in his 30s who runs a fish soup stall and has opted out of 24-hour operations, said he would be able to save about $3,000 a month by not having to hire another assistant. "The hawker centre is in a quiet neighbourhood, so there aren't many customers in the wee hours," he said.

However, some hawkers cited the downsides to operating fewer hours.

Madam Ishah Aman, who runs Malay food stall Warung Wak Dining, said working fewer hours would give her more rest time but could also pose a bigger challenge to finish selling her food.

Several patrons welcomed the move.

A 35-year-old office worker, who wanted to be known as Kevin, said he usually patronises the centre during dinner hours, so the changes to opening hours do not affect him. "If there aren't many customers, the hawkers should get some rest."

But Tampines resident Rachel Koh, 24, said she would miss dropping by the hawker centre to grab a midnight snack. "It's always nice to have a cheaper option rather than just ordering in."

The tweak to the centre's contractual terms was revealed by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor in Parliament on Monday. She spoke about measures to improve the social enterprise hawker model.

The centre is among seven hawker centres under the model, which has come under flak recently over what the National Environment Agency described as "onerous" contract terms for dishwashing and rental costs, and working hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Our Tampines Hub hawker centre to stop 24/7 service'. Print Edition | Subscribe