First of 10 new hawker centres breaks ground

First of 10 new hawker centres breaks ground
(From left) National Environment Agency (NEA) chief Ronnie Tay, Bukit Panjang MP Teo Ho Pin, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa and NTUC Foodfare chief Perry Ong wielding giant spoons at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Bukit Panjang hawker centre held on 3 November 2013.

SINGAPORE - The first hawker centre to be built here in 28 years will run from morning to night and will serve up affordable fare at its 28 cooked-food stalls.

Stall applicants for the Bukit Panjang centre must submit their proposed prices, concepts and operating hours, said its manager, social enterprise NTUC Foodfare's chief executive Perry Ong.

It marks a departure from usual bidding exercises, which require only rental bids.

"We will ensure that there is a good selection of basic, affordable food to help moderate living costs," Mr Ong said.

NTUC Foodfare wants stalls willing to open for longer. "We saw quite a few centres struggling to bring in the crowd. Some stalls were open for only half a day."

The centre, which held a ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, is set to open in the third quarter of 2015. It is the first of 10 new hawker centres that the Government will build by 2017.

Construction of the other nine centres, which will be in under-served areas such as Sengkang, Hougang and Sembawang, will start next year and in 2015.

The authorities have yet to appoint the operators, but want the stalls to be run by social enterprises to keep prices affordable.

Two hawker centres at Tampines and Hougang that are co-located with the People's Association's new community clubs started construction this year as well.

At Bukit Panjang, there will be 28 cooked-food stalls, 14 market stalls and 15 lock-up stalls on two floors. NTUC Foodfare is planning a halal food corner, with the centre sited next to a mosque.

The centre will have two underground parking floors and various green features.

Mr Ong said the stalls will be larger than usual at about 13 sq m, and hawkers can tap a centralised dish-cleaning system.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, the guest-of-honour yesterday, said hawker centres help keep Singapore "more equal and more cohesive".

"No matter who you are, you can go to a hawker centre and enjoy good food and drinks with friends," he said.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa had called for 20 hawker centres to be built in five years. He said yesterday he is in talks with the National Environment Agency to build one in Bukit Panjang's Senja area.

Marketing manager and Bukit Panjang resident Yvonne Liu, 50, is looking forward to it. "There aren't enough wet market stalls here, and it's hard to buy fresh produce," she said.

zengkun@sph.com.sg


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