Wednesday 30 December 2015

Bukit Panjang’s first hawker centre sees sizeable crowds on opening day

By Stacey Lim, TODAY, 29 Dec 2015

Bukit Panjang’s first hawker centre drew sizeable crowds on its first day of operations today (Dec 29), with packed tables seen during lunch time.

Although several coffeeshops operate nearby, patrons told TODAY they were eager to see what fresh offerings the centre would bring, while some observed slightly lower prices.

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Located at the junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Bukit Panjang Ring Road, the hawker centre is one of 20 being built by the Government over the next few years to ensure the availability of affordable food options.

It is operated by NTUC Foodfare, following recommendations by an advisory panel to let social enterprises manage hawker centres, instead of the National Environment Agency.

Foodfare’s tenants are required to operate at least 12 hours a day and offer at least two items capped at certain prices — moves that were criticised by some hawkers.

When TODAY visited the centre — which also has a wet market — today, the 500-seater centre was mostly full, and almost all 28 cooked food stalls were open.

Mr Afiq Anuar, 25, who operates a Muslim food stall said that he was “amazed” by the crowd. “I did not expect the crowd on a Tuesday, imagine (how it will be) on weekends... and it is in front of a mosque, so (for) Friday prayers there will be people who come here,” he said.

He added: “I’ve been living in Bukit Panjang for 23 years and I find (that) there’s no proper (Muslim) food to eat here. We either go (to) Teck Whye’s coffee shops or Bukit Timah’s Al-Azhar.”

Ms Liu Wan Yock, 55, who runs a handmade pau stall with her husband, said: “We sold the Big Pau (priced at S$1.20) very quickly ... I think it is because of the (cheaper) price, but these are also common food that people like... we will make a little more tomorrow.”

Senja resident Yap Minjie, who came to Bukit Panjang hawker centre with her family said that she is happy about having more food options.

The 14-year-old student said: “Sometimes we eat the same food all over again and at the same place — it’s kind of boring.”

Mr Jason Koh, a 53-year-old retiree, said that the food offerings at the hawker centre is “value for money”. He added: “There are only four coffee shops here, and the price is quite high at the coffee shops... the drinks here are cheaper by 20 cents.”

Others liked the environment. Analyst Derrick Heng, 32, said: “Given that this is an airy and comfortable location, I think pricing is less of 
an issue.”

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