Pilot to match retiring veteran hawkers with aspiring successors to start this year

·Senior Reporter
·2-min read
People, wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, queue to buy food at a hawker centre in Singapore on May 14, 2020. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
People, wearing face masks, queue to buy food at a hawker centre in Singapore on 14 May, 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A programme incorporating "lessons from COVID-19" to future-proof hawker centres is in development, while a scheme to match retiring veteran hawkers with aspiring successors will pilot later this year.

"There is no hawker culture without hawkers. Our hawkers' average age is about 60 years old. We need to act urgently...to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy our hawker culture," said Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor on Thursday (4 March).

During the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament, Dr Amy Khor spoke about the Hawker Centres Transformation Programme (HTP), which is being developed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to make hawker centres cleaner, more productive, and more sustainable.

"The HTP will incorporate lessons from COVID-19, and sustain our hawker culture," said Dr Khor. For instance, aisles and tables will be better spaced to minimise crowding.

"We will create a more conducive environment for patrons, hawkers and cleaners. We will also enhance the use of technology and support digitalisation efforts. For example, we will work towards deploying sensors for crowd monitoring and to facilitate maintenance," she added.

This programme will be applied at upcoming new hawker centres, and as well as those which will be undergoing redevelopment.

"We will also conduct engagements with stakeholders at a few existing hawker centres to co-create centre-level solutions for these centres, to address infrastructure gaps based on COVID-19 lessons. We hope to learn from these 'test' centres and continue to refine the HTP," said Dr Khor.

Three new hawker centres are set to open within the next year. They are Bukit Canberra Hawker Centre in the third quarter of this year, Fernvale Hawker Centre & Market in the fourth quarter this year, and Senja Hawker Centre in early 2022. The new Senja Hawker Centre will have features like food waste digestion, rainwater harvesting and solar panels.

Separately, the NEA will be convening an independent advisory panel to identify and match suitable candidates with retiring hawkers who have no successors under the Hawker Succession Scheme (HSS), Dr Khor said.

The scheme was first announced in November last year, Under it, older hawkers can pass on their skills and experience to anyone who is interested to take over, no longer limiting handover plans to only family members.

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