SINGAPORE: Following feedback from tenants, Jurong West Hawker Centre customers will be charged a deposit for using trays, operator Hawker Management said in a statement on Thursday (Oct 18).
The Koufu Group social enterprise subsidiary had received complaints from stallholders who had to pay for a tray-return programme that rewarded customers with 20 cents for each tray they returned.
Hawkers had started a petition to call for the removal of these charges, which could come up to hundreds of dollars a month.
The operator said that it had met with most of its tenants as of Thursday evening and had received "constructive feedback and views from tenants on all outstanding concerns".
In its statement, Hawker Management said the tray return initiative would be changed to a deposit system, where customers pay 20 cents to collect clean trays for use and are refunded when they return the trays at designated collection points.
"In line with the objective to encourage a gracious society where patrons play a proactive role in returning their trays, the tray return initiative will thereby help to reduce cleaning fees for tenants while easing the workload of the cleaners," said the operator.
It added that it would "work closely" with tenants to "work out the mechanics and operational details".
"Once these details are finalised, Hawker Management will announce when the new deposit-based tray return initiative will take effect."
In addition, a committee made up of tenant representatives will be formed to work closely with Hawker Management to drive changes at the hawker centre, it said.
Some of these plans include "festive marketing activities" as well as working closely with residents' committees and community clubs.
As for other complaints, including stallholders having to continue to pay basic rent if they terminate their contract early, Hawker Management said it "noted" all other feedback.
"Hawker Management has also noted all other feedback and comments gathered from the meetings, including contractual terms, and are in the midst of reviewing them internally, with a view to address all outstanding matters quickly," it said.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Thursday it welcomes the idea of starting a committee with hawker representatives and holding activities to improve the vibrancy of the hawker centre.
"As we have been doing, NEA will continue to pay close attention and support the operator and stallholders to address the remaining outstanding matters." NEA said in its statement.