Monday, 7 July 2014

Free Wi-Fi, healthier food at new Bedok food centre

Facility to be ready in October; integrated transport hub nearby will be up by year-end
By Janice Heng, The Sunday Times, 6 Jul 2014

When Bedok's new hawker centre is completed in October, it will not only be larger and better ventilated, but also offer free wireless Internet access and healthier food options.

Meanwhile, the upcoming integrated transport hub nearby promises a cooler and more convenient commute, as well as being environmentally friendly.

Located at Block 208B New Upper Changi Road, near Bedok MRT station, the new hawker centre will feature the Wireless@SG service, and be wired up such that stalls can allow payment by the contactless Nets FlashPay card.

The Health Promotion Board will work with hawkers at the 70 stalls to come up with healthier versions of dishes that can be offered alongside the original.

High-volume, low-speed fans will cool diners gently, while saving energy. Dust and odours will be removed by a centralised system. And diners can do their part by using five tray return stations, complete with sinks.

All this is on top of previously announced improvements. The new hawker centre is bigger than the one it is replacing at Block 207, with seating for 1,040 instead of 900.

The 13 sq m stalls are twice the size of current ones. An adjacent multi-storey carpark will have more than 400 spaces - 200 more than the previous surface carpark.

"With this new hawker centre and multi-storey carpark, Bedok Town Centre is becoming more vibrant, more 'happening' and relevant to the residents," said Senior Minister of State for National Development, and Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan.

Bedok resident Swa Yeok Khai looks forward to cleaner premises but hopes not too much else will change. "As long as the stalls are the same, it should be good. I just hope it won't be more expensive," said the 60-year-old operations supervisor in Mandarin.

With these improvements, will food prices go up? Mr Lee, who is also adviser to the East Coast GRC grassroots organisations, says he hopes they will stay the same.

About 30 per cent of the stallholders are first-generation ones, paying subsidised rents of just $340 a month, he noted.

The rest of the stalls have rents of about $2,100 to $2,400 - much less than the $4,000 to $5,000 market rate for such a prime location.

"So we hope this will translate into low prices," he said, speaking to the media at yesterday's topping-out ceremony.

When the new hawker centre is completed, the old one will make way for a town plaza and heritage corner, to be completed by November next year.

The revamp is part of the Housing Board's five-year plan for East Coast, under the second phase of the Remaking Our Heartland scheme to spruce up mature estates.

Also coming up by the end of the year is a new integrated transport hub.

Expected to serve 40,000 commuters daily, the 1.6ha complex gives air-conditioned access between the bus interchange and MRT station.

Linked to Bedok Mall, it also adds 400 sq m of commercial space. There will be barrier-free facilities, dedicated boarding points and graduated kerb edges for wheelchair-bound passengers.

Bus captains and other staff will get a bigger staff lounge and kitchen facilities.

The seventh such integrated transport hub, it will be the first to get the Building and Construction Authority's Green Mark Platinum Award.

This eco-friendly seal of approval was given for features such as energy-efficient concourse lighting, LED lighting for the driveway and bus park area, and a water-cooled air-conditioning system.

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