SINGAPORE: The wet market at Jurong West Street 41 will be demolished after it was gutted beyond repair in a fire on Tuesday (Oct 11).
Demolition works will begin as early as next week, Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC) Ang Wei Neng said on Sunday.
The Professional Engineer appointed by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) has found the stalls to be beyond repair. The roof had caved in and the columns supporting it were slanted and cracked.
To allow the stallholders to enter the site to take a final look at their stalls, HDB began propping up the structure on Friday. On Sunday, stallholders were allowed to enter the site.
“I think most, if not all, the displaced stallholders realised that the market and the coffee shop were almost completely destroyed and it’s quite impossible for them to go inside and retrieve the items by themselves. But they need closure,” said Mr Ang.
The wet market was gutted beyond repair, according to an HDB-appointed engineer. (Photo: Vanessa Lim)
Under the close supervision of the engineer, stallholders were allowed to enter the site in small groups. "Everything is gone. The damage is too severe. I thought I would be able to get something, but there's nothing left," said Mr Tay Quek Hua, 68, a vegetable stallholder at the wet market.
Mr Ang said efforts have been stepped up to help stallholders move on. One option for them is to move to vacant stalls at other markets. However, only a fraction of them has expressed interest, said Mr Ang.
"Some of them have been working here and doing business here for decades - some even three decades - so they are very used to the environment here, and they may not want to choose somewhere that is even 2 to 3km away from here," he explained.
For those who do not wish to move, Mr Ang said a job fair focused on the food and beverage sector will be held on Oct 27 at Jurong Green Community Centre. “I hope they can get a job through the work job fair or other means, to help them tide over this period of time.”
However, the fire has left another problem – residents have been complaining of a foul smell emerging from the site. Shops nearby have said that the smell is affecting their business.
"Many people don't want to come here to buy spectacles because of the smell. They are going elsewhere. The number of customers has dropped by 10 to 20 per cent," said Mr Victor Lau, who works at an optical shop just across the wet market.
HDB said the stench comes from the food items left in the wet market and it has been clearing the site and disinfecting daily to get rid of the smell.
It will continue to work with the National Environment Agency to clear the debris, and to carry out disinfection and anti-mosquito treatment.