Back on their feet after the fire

The fire on Oct 11 destroyed a 31-year-old wet market and coffee shop at Block 493, Jurong West Street 41.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Four months after a fire destroyed the livelihood of 51 stallholders in Jurong West, many have resumed business at a temporary wet market set up at a basketball court.

The oldest stallholder, Mr Neo Chwee Eng, 82, who sells yong tau foo, is grateful to be back in business as he is the breadwinner in the family.

The fire on Oct 11 destroyed a 31-year-old wet market and coffee shop at Block 493, Jurong West Street 41.

A privately-run coffee shop at adjoining Block 494 was also badly damaged.

Read Also: Jurong market fire: I have to support wife and son in wheelchairs, says stallholder, 81

Lim Ying Siang, 41, has been charged with starting the fire.

On Jan 1, 23 stallholders resumed business at the temporary market, which cost $600,000 to build, in front of Block 495.

Mr Neo told The New Paper: "Business is good, and many of my regular customers continue to support me."

He pays $800 a month to rent the stall, up from $700 previously.

Fire destroys Jurong coffeeshop and wet market

  • Lim Ying Siang (in striped shirt) suspected of involvement in Jurong West market fire arrested and will be charged at State Courts.
  • More than 300 residents in Jurong West were evacuated from their homes after being rudely awakened by a fire that broke out at around 2.45am today (Oct 11).
  • According to Lianhe Wanbao, the flames engulfed a coffeeshop and market at Block 493 Jurong West Street 41, causing its roof to partially collapse. It also spread to the next block, causing damage to the outer walls of another coffeeshop there.
  • In a Facebook post, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said: "At the height of the fire, the roof of the wet market collapsed and the exterior side wall of a coffee shop at Blk 494, which was directly facing the raging blaze, sustained fire damage."
  • Firefighters reportedly took one and a half hours to put out the fire, with the building suffering irreparable damage. Some hawkers and stallholders told the Chinese daily that their stalls, along with supplies, were burned to the ground.
  • Lianhe Wanbao also identified a 63-year-old man as one of three people who runs the stalls at Block 493. He told the paper that the losses incurred from the fire were estimated to be around $1 million.
  • A reader who wrote in to citizen journalism website Stomp said that she could see the fire from her home.
  • "We didn't know what to do until an officer came up and told us to evacuate our homes," said the reader identified only as Nura.
  • Stomp reported that Nura heard two explosions during the fire, and that the fire had spread from one side of the coffeeshop to another in just 20 to 30 minutes.
  • She managed to return to her flat only at 4am this morning.
  • SCDF added that a woman in her 60s reported experiencing breathing difficulties and was taken to hospital. No other injuries were reported.
  • The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
  • BCA also said that while there was damage to the coffeeshop in Block 494, the structural integrity of the block and the upper floors of the building were not affected by the fire.
  • BCA also said that while there was damage to the coffeeshop in Block 494, the structural integrity of the block and the upper floors of the building were not affected by the fire.
  • BCA also said that while there was damage to the coffeeshop in Block 494, the structural integrity of the block and the upper floors of the building were not affected by the fire.
  • BCA also said that while there was damage to the coffeeshop in Block 494, the structural integrity of the block and the upper floors of the building were not affected by the fire.
  • BCA also said that while there was damage to the coffeeshop in Block 494, the structural integrity of the block and the upper floors of the building were not affected by the fire.
  • A reader who wrote in to citizen journalism website Stomp said that she could see the fire from her home.
  • Block 493, the coffeeshop at Block 494, and damaged parts of the adjacent covered linkways will be closed to the public.
  • Block 493, the coffeeshop at Block 494, and damaged parts of the adjacent covered linkways will be closed to the public.
  • Block 493, the coffeeshop at Block 494, and damaged parts of the adjacent covered linkways will be closed to the public.
  • Firefighters reportedly took one and a half hours to put out the fire, with the building suffering irreparable damage. Some hawkers and stallholders told the Chinese daily that their stalls, along with supplies, were completely burned.
  • Firefighters reportedly took one and a half hours to put out the fire, with the building suffering irreparable damage. Some hawkers and stallholders told the Chinese daily that their stalls, along with supplies, were completely burned.
  • Firefighters reportedly took one and a half hours to put out the fire, with the building suffering irreparable damage. Some hawkers and stallholders told the Chinese daily that their stalls, along with supplies, were completely burned.
  • Firefighters reportedly took one and a half hours to put out the fire, with the building suffering irreparable damage. Some hawkers and stallholders told the Chinese daily that their stalls, along with supplies, were completely burned.
  • Firefighters reportedly took one and a half hours to put out the fire, with the building suffering irreparable damage. Some hawkers and stallholders told the Chinese daily that their stalls, along with supplies, were completely burned.
  • A man is seen cleaning his window the day of the fire that burned down the wet market and coffeeshop at Block 493, Jurong West St 41. The coffeeshop is below the block of this man's flat.
  • A resident being treated for smoke inhallation.
  • Affected stallholders gathered at Block 395A, next to the scene of the fire, to discuss the loss of their livelihoods and what they could do next.
  • Mr Lim Ah Huat, 67, (right) whose stall was destroyed in the fire that burned down the wet market and coffeeshop at block 493, Jurong West St 41. He told ST that he has no insurance for his business and does not know what he will do now.
  • Madam Wahidah Abdul Rahman, owner of Noorlin Seafood Restaurant located at a cofee shop at Blk 494 Jurong West Street 41. Madam Wahidah's stall was affected by a fire forcing about 300 residents from the surrounding blocks to be evacuated on 11 October 2016.
  • Mr Teo who had a stall selling flowers at the wet market said he lost a few thousand dollars after a fire burnt down the wet market and coffee shop at Block 493 Jurong West Street 41, in the early hours of 11 October 2016.
  • Resident of Blk 494 Jurong West St 41, Mdm Rahimah Tahir and her family members had to leave their flat when fire at Blk 493 wet market spread to coffeeshop below her flat.
  • Mr Dulivfri Dali (left) and his brother Mr Johari Dali, stall owners at a wet market located at Blk 493 Jurong West Street 41.

His customer of over 20 years, Madam Ho Wai Lin, 74, said the temporary market, which is just a two-minute walk from the old market, is convenient.

"Before it was built, I had to take the bus to another market," she said.

Mr Neo supports his wheelchair-bound wife and diabetic son, who quit his job after his right leg was amputated.

Some stallholders told TNP that their businesses were not doing well.

Read Also: Jurong West market fire: Dad says arson suspect's not quite sound

Florist Teo Yew Ngee, 67, said he has had a 35 per cent drop in customers.

He said: "Some regulars said they were too lazy to walk here. There's no sheltered walkway here, so we don't have business when it rains."

Construction of a new two-storey complex comprising a market and eldercare facilities is set to begin later this year and is due to be ready by end-2018.

Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng told TNP that the new complex is still in its design stage, and he visited stallholders at the temporary market over Chinese New Year.

He said: "They are happily settling down. All 35 stalls are taken up and business is almost back to normal.

Read Also: Rebuilding lives after Jurong West market fire

SETTLED

"More than half of the cooked food stalls have settled into nearby coffee shops."

A group called Stand Up for Singapore raised about $32,000 for 22 hawkers in the Block 494 coffee shop.

Mr Wally Tham, 39, the group's founder, said it started the crowdfunding project because hawkers in the privately-run coffee shop were not receiving help, unlike those in the Block 493 market, which is owned by the Housing Board.

bxliew@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 9, 2017.
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