Rochor demolition casts a pall over nearby stall vendors

Mr Lim Dunxing, 55, a stall owner selling bags at the pasar malam between OG Albert Complex and Fu Lu Shou Complex, opposite Rochor Centre, on June 29, 2018.
Mr Lim Dunxing, 55, a stall owner selling bags at the pasar malam between OG Albert Complex and Fu Lu Shou Complex, opposite Rochor Centre, on June 29, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People walking along the market near OG Albert Complex and Fu Lu Shou Complex, opposite Rochor Centre, on June 29, 2018.
People walking along the market near OG Albert Complex and Fu Lu Shou Complex, opposite Rochor Centre, on June 29, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Rochor Centre is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway.
Rochor Centre is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Rochor Centre is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway.
Rochor Centre is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Rochor Centre is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway.
Rochor Centre is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Mr Lim Dunxing, 63, meticulously set out his stall selling bags and children's clothes last Friday morning in a daily routine.

Across the road, a lifeless Rochor Centre clad in grey sheets loomed. The public housing estate is being levelled to make way for the North-South Corridor expressway, in a process that started last Tuesday and is expected to end next April.

Located outdoors at Albert Mall along other street vendors, Mr Lim's stall is closest to the demolition site. He has fended off increasing rent and competitors in the last nine years, but the impact caused by the demolition might be his biggest challenge yet.

"Since Rochor Centre was shut down, there has hardly been foot traffic here," said Mr Lim. He added that he pays about $12,000 a month for the space, about one-third the size of a basketball court.

"When the dust and soil particles get on the clothing, who is going to buy them? It's not possible to clean them all," he said in Mandarin.

Nearby, within the sheltered Fu Lu Shou Complex, Madam May Choy, 55, operates her women's clothing stall out of a pop-up cart that she rents for $70 a day.

"Hopefully we can get a rental break from the landlord when the demolition affects us badly," said Madam Choy, who added that sales can barely cover rental costs on some days. "Or maybe the Government can consider putting up a net by the road to prevent dust from coming in."

BUSINESS AFFECTED

When the dust and soil particles get on the clothing, who is going to buy them? It's not possible to clean them all.

MR LIM DUNXING, who runs a stall selling bags and children's clothes.

Diagonally across the four-block Rochor Centre sits Hotel 81 Rochor. But the demolition has not caused disturbance to guests there yet, said front office staff member Jovine Wu. Raffles Hospital, located on the other side of the site, has also not been affected, according to a Raffles Medical Group spokesman.

However, there are those like Mr Anthony Toh, 71, who seek a spot of respite in the busy city area. The retired police officer visits Church of Our Lady of Lourdes two or three times a week for mass services.

"The noise, when it comes, will affect me during worship. I hope the site can observe breaks during services so we can concentrate," said Mr Toh.

The Land Transport Authority said on June 21 that noise barriers and dust screens have been erected around the site to minimise noise and dust affecting residents and businesses nearby.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2018, with the headline 'Rochor demolition casts a pall over nearby stall vendors'. Print Edition | Subscribe