Most of the 41 vendors along Waterloo Street are disabled people and old folks trying to earn a living, said netizens commenting on the government’s recent move to collect a monthly fee from Waterloo Street vendors starting next year.
Of these vendors, 19 are fortune tellers, 19 are flower vendors, two are reflexologists and one is a cobbler.
The Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) said on Tuesday (8 December) that starting from next year, vendors in the area will have to pay S$48.15 every month for a three-year temporary occupation licence that will grant them a 3 sqm lot.
The licensing fee will be collected from 1 June next year onwards, said SLA, whilst those who have financial difficulties are encouraged to approach the agency for assistance.
Currently, vendors are not required to pay for their space, except for flower vendors who have to pay S$120 annually for a street hawking licence from the Singapore Food Agency.
SLA noted that the area is “filled with stall setups and discarded boxes that obstruct the pathways” which could potentially be a fire hazard.
As such, a 6m-wide space for fire engine access and at least 1m space between the stalls will be implemented to increase public health and safety along the pedestrian street.
The agency noted that no new slots will be issued and the license is not transferable.
Vendors will have to ballot for a lot on 14 December and move into their allocated spot by 4 January next year.
SLA explained that this is to ensure “fairness and transparency” in allocating the spots for them.
Flower vendors, on the other hand, will be allocated outside the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple as SLA noted that many devotees would buy flowers from them.
According to a spokesperson from the SLA, no formal consultations were conducted with the vendors prior to the new plans being rolled out.
The spokesperson also told CNA that vendors were “not surprised” and gave “no adverse reactions” when they were told about the news on Tuesday morning.
Following this, a handful of netizens highlighted on CNA’s Facebook post that the majority of Waterloo Street vendors are among the disabled and the elderly.
They implored the government not to collect a rental fee from vendors as it would only “add more burdens” for them to cover the cost.
While some netizens agreed with having vendors move into designated spots for safe distancing measures, they questioned the government’s rationale behind collecting the rental fee from vendors.