A festive goodies stall set up for Ramadan in Bukit Batok has been stopped from operating for the past two weeks by the National Environment Agency (NEA) due to the lack of permit.
Instead, the operators have since been issued with a summon.
The stall is understood to have been invited to be set up by the Resident Committee (RC) of the area and had handed all required particulars to the RC. The operator of the stall understands that the town council and the Member of Parliament have also approved of the setting up of the stall.
On 16 June, Tuesday, the stall helpers were preparing to start their business when agents from the NEA came to inspect the stall and asked to see the required permits. When the operator failed to produce this, NEA officers slapped them with a summon for operating without a valid license and asked them to apply for a permit before they can be allowed to sell their items.
Closed to customers with plastic sheets surrounding all sides of the stall, the stall continues to wait for approval from the NEA that they can now sell their goods.
"For two weeks without sales, how are you going to pay for the staff and rental?" the on-site supervisor who does not want to be named, said.
For the past two weeks, NEA officers have been dropping down to the stall to ensure that they have not commenced operation without the approval from NEA. It is also understood that NEA has not requested the stall to be torn down and relocated.
"In Singapore, everything is efficient, but why does NEA take more than two weeks to process our permit?", the supervisor added on the summons issued to them. "They could have just came in to give us a warning instead of issuing us a summon straight up front.".
There was no issue with the stall at the same location last year. Then, NEA officers had checked the stall, asked for the source of the food products and took a look around before leaving the stall to run its normal operation.
Most of the food products on sale are packaged food which have been approved by Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA).
"If the food have any problems, how could they have been cleared at the custom? We also paid tax for all these items."
The pastries which are not packaged are delivered to the stall from one food caterer which has NEA's permit. The supervisor says he does not understand why NEA is being so difficult with them.
Many old customers are left puzzled as they enquire about the goods. Some of the customers were even coming all the way from Pasir Ris, wanting to buy the festive goods in preparation for the upcoming celebration. One customer came by while TOC was there, but he left disappointed after being told that the stall was not permitted to sell the goods to anyone.
With only less than two weeks to go before the end of Ramadan, it is unlikely the stall will be able to recoup its costs, on top of having to pay the summon which NEA has issued.
Till today, NEA has yet to approve the stall's permit to operate.
The last reply that the NEA gave to the operator was that they are still waiting for approval from the Singapore Civil Defence Force on their floor plan.
Update: TOC understands that NEA has just given the approval at 6pm on Thursday for the stall to carry out operations from 3 July, Friday onwards.
TOC has written to NEA for clarification on the matter