July 10, 2017 was the day that Sungei Road Market, the oldest flea market in the country, closed down. This closure was enacted to make room for the Jalan Besar MRT station, plus the development of other commercial and residential establishments in the area.
Nearly a year after Sungei Road Market closed, some of its vendors, who had relocated to Kreta Ayer Weekend Market, are faced with the same dilemma, since this weekend market itself faces closure on July 1, 2018.
The reason: another MRT station, this time it’s Maxwell MRT station. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will be carrying out improvements in this area, with the LTA constructing covered paths on part of Sago Lane toward the Maxwell MRT station, which is part of its Walk2Ride initiative. Meanwhile, under the Home Improvement Programme, the HDB will close off a portion of Sago Lane for improvements on Smith Street blocks 335A and 335B.
How long these improvements will take, and whether or not the Kreta Ayer Weekend Market will re-open, is anyone’s guess at this point.
The vendors from Sungei Road Market were offered several places after the closure last July—including the rooftop car park at Golden Mile Tower, an offer they refused due to small food traffic and high rental fees. Most have been moving their stalls from one market to another every few weeks.
But a number of them settled a few months ago at Kreta Ayer Weekend Market, a location that they welcomed, because of its established clientele and high foot traffic.
These vendors, as well as the others in the market, were informed of the July 1 closure in a letter dated on May 12 of this year
Letter from Save Sungei Road Market Facebook page’s photos
This caught the vendors completely off guard, as they had expected to be able to stay at the market for a while.
Some have suggested writing to their Member of Parliament (MP) for help in the matter.
To make matters even more difficult, the National Environment Agency has recently increased efforts to catch unlicensed vendors. On a recent public holiday, officers visited Kreta Ayer Weekend Market and told vendors how had no licenses to stop selling goods, or answer to a $300 summons.
Official visits have increased partly in answer to residents of Kreta Ayer, who have raised objections to the growing amount of trash in the area, among other complaints. Some vendors who tried to obtain a license were pushed back and forth between the NEA and the Kreta Ayer Community Centre (CC), with neither organization offering any help.
The closure of the Kreta Ayer Weekend Flea Market is forcing vendors to find a place to sell their goods yet again.
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