Sungei Road market's association chairman explains hasty move to paint carpark lots; carpark owner responds

The new location for the Thieves Market Vendors at the sixth floor of Golden Mile Tower's carpark pictured on 10 July.
The new location for the Thieves Market Vendors at the sixth floor of Golden Mile Tower's carpark pictured on 10 July.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Golden Mile Tower carpark owner LHN Group said it is prepared to set aside the matter of Sungei Road market association painting its rooftop carpark without permission, so long as it is reinstated to its original condition.

It had previously lodged a police report over what it described as an act of vandalism.

In its latest statement on Thursday evening, LHN Group said that association chairman Koh Eng Khoon had "apologised officially" for sending a contractor to demarcate vendor lots across the rooftop carpark space on Tuesday (July 11).

This had been done ahead of the market's planned relaunch at the new venue on Saturday (July15) and before any formal agreement was inked with LHN Group.

LHN Group also added that it will still consider renting the space to the market if approached by the association to discuss the the matter further.

It said however that if the agreement works out, approvals still need to be sought from various Government agencies.

Mr Koh told The Straits Times on Thursday (July 13) that he had rushed to demarcate parking lots to give vendors a preview of what their new slots would look like.

This would help to speed up the process of collecting deposits from them that would then go towards paying the $10,000 monthly fee of renting the carpark.

However, doing so without the authorisation of LHN Group, the carpark's owner, was a mistake on his part, Mr Koh said.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he said: "We had discussed with the company the terms and conditions on Tuesday (July 11) and they had presented us several quotations. We understand that the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) approval for change of use is needed before vendors can start hawking there."

Mr Koh said: "I'm really hoping that the company will still help us vendors and give us a chance to restart what we expect could be a thriving market."

On Monday, Mr Koh said nearly half of the defunct market's 200 vendors had expressed interest in moving to the carpark.

Materials distributed to vendors stated that daily rent will cost $5 for association members and $10 for non-members. A security deposit of $100 is required, along with a one-year commitment.

Each vendor was also slated to have about 1m by 2m of space. The new site also has the capacity to house more than 160 vendors, said Mr Koh then.

A statement by members of the Save Sungei Road Market group was also released on behalf of the market's association on Thursday.

It said that the association is doing its best to "resolve the many issues related to the move" and that it does not have the experience of negotiating the official processes, having only operated within the Sungei Road free hawking zone, adding that that Mr Koh is unable to read and that he has been trying to cope with the "many phone calls seeking information".

"Our (the association's) resources are also quite constrained but we will do our best to make the relocation plan a real possibility," the statement said.

It said that the association had "received a verbal agreement from the management" with the understanding that URA's approval is needed before vendors can open shop.

It added that an architect has stepped forward to help the association initiate the application process with the URA, and that vendors have been informed of the delay.

"They (the vendors) continue to support the relocation move and will be awaiting further notification from the association regarding the opening of the market."