Stallholders forced out of Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre due to the Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) were shocked to find that they have to grapple with a 100 per cent increase in rent and 66 per cent increase in cleaning fees at the replacement food court they have been assigned to.
Some 50 hawkers are due to move to the replacement food centre along Woodlands St 12 on 1 Dec 2017, as Blocks 1A to 6A at Woodlands Centre Road – where the old food centre was located – will be demolished as part of SERS.
Hawkers expressed their distress over the greatly increased cost of operations at a meeting with officials from Housing Development Board (HDB) and National Environment Agency (NEA), earlier this week at Marsiling Community Club.
One first-generation stallholder revealed that rent at the old Woodlands Centre food court costs $160 and cleaning fees cost $280. Rent at the replacement food centre will cost double the current price, at $320.
Cleaning fees at the new replacement food centre will initially cost $92.50 more than the current $280 rate, at $372.50 – until, that is, it climbs to a whopping $465 from June next year.
While some hawkers concluded that they will need to seek assistance from government schemes to mitigate the increased costs, others lamented that they have no choice but to hike the price of their food to cope with the sharp rise in operating costs.
Their only hope is that their customers will understand that the drastic decision to hike food prices has only been made since their circumstances grow more dire.