Smith Street upgrading causes business to drop by as high as 80%

Smith Street upgrading causes business to drop by as high as 80%

Eight Chinatown businesses in the shophouses of Smith Street have petitioned the Government to improve conditions along the closed-off road.

They say poor access, ventilation and lighting have sent business plunging by up to 80 per cent since the closure on May 1.

The group sent a petition last Monday to numerous authorities, including the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

It appealed for more lights, fire-prevention equipment and for signboards to be erected. It also asked for regular project updates and compensation of $1,000 a day if a delay occurs.

When The Straits Times visited the street last week, it found its entrances hoarded up. Signs pointed pedestrians to narrow alleyways down its sides, but few ventured in. The closure makes possible a $4 million revamp of Chinatown Food Street, which takes up a 100m stretch of Smith Street.

Select Group was appointed as operator and aims to complete construction in the fourth quarter of the year.The STB's director of cultural precincts and tourism concept development, Mr Poh Chi Chuan, said he was aware of the petition.

He added: "We would like to seek stakeholders' understanding that while there are inevitable inconveniences caused during the construction process, we believe the revitalised Food Street will draw more crowds to the area and eventually benefit the Chinatown stakeholders."

Select Group's spokesman Chloe Sng said that briefing sessions were held with affected businesses and memos distributed to update them on progress.

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