Hawkers at the social enterprise hawker centre at Jurong West St 61 are incensed that Koufu and the National Environment Agency have rejected their petition to remove a tray return fee imposed on consumers.
Reasons given for the reason for the rejection include the need to lower cleaning fees and instil a “return your tray” behaviour in customers.
The tray return initiatives sees customers being charged 20 cents for taking a tray and refunded that 20 cents when they return the tray.
It was implemented in December 2018, following complaints about the previous tray return initiative at the social enterprise hawker centre which saw customers being rewarded 20 cents for retuning their tray, with the reward coming out of hawkers’ pockets.
Hawkers have complained that the new system is just as useless as the old one.
Among the complaints:
-customers leave the dishes on the table and return the tray
-during busy periods, it takes much time to explain the system to customers
-hawkers need to pay the management first for trays used from their stall, and later make a claim for the refunds given to customers
-the machine that handles refunds often breaks down, leading to disputes and angry customers
Hawkers say that business at the hawker centre is already bad, and the tray return initiative has made business worse.
In January this year, 5 stalls at the hawker centre shut down.
However, Koufu says that the cleaning costs have risen and the tray return initiative is important as it will, in the long run, lower these costs.
The NEA says that the tray return initiative must remain as it is targeting the long-term goal of making customers return their trays on their own initiative.