SINGAPORE: The last day of operation of the iconic Thieves' Market at Sungei Road will be on Jul 10 this year, marking the end of an era for many Singaporeans.
The city-state's largest and oldest flea market has been operating since it emerged as a small trading spot along the river in the 1930s, and gained its nickname due to its reputation for stolen, smuggled and illegal goods after the Japanese Occupation.
On Tuesday (Feb 14), the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of National Development (MND), Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Workforce Singapore (WSG), National Heritage Board (NHB) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a joint press release that the site of the market will be used for "ground preparation works to facilitate future residential development use".
"While the Sungei Road Hawking Zone (SRHZ) has had a long history and holds special memories for many Singaporeans, over time the nature of the site has change, as reflected in both the profile of vendors and buyers and type of goods sold," the agencies said in the press release.
"The Government has assessed that such street trades should only be allowed to continue in designated venues like trade fairs and flea markets, rather than on a permanent basis, to minimise disamenities to the public."
SRHZ is the official name of the site where the Thieves' Market is located.
Assistance will be available to the market's vendors, with NEA offering the 11 permit holders registered at the site the option of operating lock-up stalls at selected hawker centres with subsidised rental rates, while WSG will provide employment services under existing schemes to eligible vendors who may require such help. Those who require financial assistance can also visit any of the Social Service Offices.
Vendors registered with the SPF under the Secondhand Goods Dealers Act will need to provide a new business address if they wish to continue to ply their secondhand goods trade elsewhere, the press release said.
Noting the long history of SRHZ, NHB said it has embarked on research and documentation of the market and its vendors to preserve memories of the site for future generations before its closure. These resources, including a virtual tour, are available on NHB's heritage portal Roots.sg.