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Free Wifi, cashless payment on the menu at new hawker centre in Bedok

Free Wifi, cashless payments, and healthier food options will be on the menu for residents when a new hawker centre at the Bedok town centre is completed in October.

SINGAPORE: Free Wifi, cashless payments, and healthier food options will be on the menu for residents when a new hawker centre at the Bedok town centre is completed in October. The food centre is in its final stage of construction and will replace the existing, smaller hawker centre at Block 207, New Upper Changi Road.

The new hawker centre can accommodate 1,000 people compared to about 900 currently.

At the new hawker centre, high-volume, low-speed fans will keep diners cool while being more energy-efficient than regular ceiling fans. Odours will also be removed through a centralised electrostatic exhaust air cleaner system.

Such features will enable diners to enjoy their food in a more comfortable setting.

Diners can go cashless too as the hawker centre will be equipped to offer the option of paying with the NETS contactless card. They will also be able to surf the internet while having a coffee with the Wireless@SG service.

The Health Promotion Board will also work with hawkers there to make healthier food choices more readily available. Adjacent to the hawker centre will also be a multi-storey carpark with more than 400 lots, which is 200 more than the current parking facility.

These details were revealed at a topping-out ceremony on Saturday to mark the hawker centre's final stage of construction.

But will added benefits come with a higher price tag on your food?

Lee Yi Shyan, senior minister of state for national development and MP for East Coast GRC, said: "For the first-generation stall-holders they are only paying S$340. And for those that are non first-generation, they continue to operate within S$2,100 to S$2,400 monthly rental. It's a huge discount.

"I think the government has done its part to make sure this place is very affordable in terms of rental. In fact if you rent it out freely in the market, rental will be much higher. So we hope this low rental price will translate into low food costs."

And while hawkers are getting bigger stall space, not all are willing to go cashless.

A hawker, who declined to be named, said: "There'll be charges incurred, and not quite sustainable for a hawker... I don't think it's the main way of payment for our customers when they're eating at a hawker centre. And maybe some old people won't even have it."

Bedok residents will get a new integrated transport hub which will link the bus interchange and MRT station to Bedok mall. It will be ready by the fourth quarter of 2014, and is expected to serve some 40,000 commuters daily.

When the new hawker centre is ready, the current one will be redeveloped into a town plaza and heritage corner. All this is part of the second phase of the Remaking Our Heartland programme -- to rejuvenate mature estates.

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