SINGAPORE: The future of the food centre located at the top floor of Beauty World Centre in Upper Bukit Timah appears to be up in the air. Three hawkers who spoke with Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Feb 3) said they are unsure if they can stay open past Feb 11, as they have been informed that they will have to cease operations by that date.
All three hawkers spoke to Channel NewsAsia on the condition of anonymity. One of them said a representative for the hawkers - a "trustee" - told stall holders that they will have to stop operating their businesses come Feb 11, but there have been no further instructions or any explanation.
"We are in limbo right now," said a stall owner. "I can't make plans ... management has not been in touch, we have not been told of anything. We are not sure if we can stay, or if we have to cease operations entirely."
Another stall owner said come Feb 11, all stallowners at the food centre will "take a rest" as they cannot continue their businesses. When asked why, he said the reason is "very complicated".
"The trustee (of the hawker centre) does not want to renew the hawker centre's license," he said.
Burger stall Hambaobao, which opened its doors at Beauty World Centre's hawker centre about two years ago, also put up a Facebook post in late January informing its customers that it would be shuttering for good come Feb 5. It said the "NEA license of (the) entire hawker centre cannot be renewed".
However, Beauty World Food Centre is not managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA), according to NEA's website.
In response to queries, NEA said Beauty World Food Centre is privately-owned and operated.
"Its current food shop licence, issued by NEA, is valid until Nov 18, 2017. The NEA has not received any notice from the licensee that they are intending to cease business or cancel its licence," a spokesperson for the agency said.
The uncertainty has been frustrating for some stall owners. "The management should give us some answers on why we can't continue our business," one of the stall owners told Channel NewsAsia.
"We need to know if we will be losing our jobs, if we need to relocate, or look for new work. Now, there is no definite news," said a stall assistant.
When approached, one of the trustees for the hawker centre said she would not be responding to any questions.
At least 30 per cent of the stalls at Beauty World Centre's food centre looked to be cleared out on Friday afternoon. Ramen stall Buta Kin, which has gained a strong following, had put up a sign stating it ceased operations with effect from Jan 26.
According to media reports in 2016, a buyer had offered S$17.5 million for the hawker centre.
Channel NewsAsia has reached out to the food centre's management for comment.