New Eating Lifestyle Presents Challenges For Hawkers, But Infocomm Minister Believes They Can Be Overcome

With dining-in at F&B outlets suspended during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), many hawkers have seen a dip in customers.

Those who haven’t managed to list their offerings online, like illiterate and elderly hawkers, have had to rely 100% on takeaway business.

As more people stay home and order online food delivery, that’s resulted in a lot of unsold food and worries over keeping their stalls.

That’s why Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Information and Communications, says hawkers should consider getting onto online delivery platforms.

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To that end, 2 ministers will be helping to encourage more hawkers to log on to food delivery platforms.

Govt has been thinking about issue for awhile

In a Facebook post on Saturday (5 Jun), Mrs Teo noted that a recent Straits Times article called for Government agencies to help hawkers reach customers amid the pandemic.

Image for illustration purposes only.
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In response, she said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has actually been thinking about the issue for awhile.

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She said that when the pandemic 1st started, the Government “intensified outreach efforts” to hawkers to help them go digital.

During the ‘Circuit Breaker’, local companies like TheSmartLocal also helped out by compiling a list of local eateries providing direct delivery services. This helps hawkers save on paying commission fees to food delivery apps.

60% of stallholders now offer e-payment

Efforts by the authorities and the community have paid off, Mrs Teo said.

Now, about 60% of stallholders in Singapore offer e-payment.

That’s under the Hawkers Go Digital effort spearheaded by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

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Hawkers will need to consider ‘e-ordering’

However, the pandemic has presented another challenge. It’s caused more people to stay home and order food delivery.

Thus, hawkers will have to keep up with the times again, as Mrs Teo said,

From offering “e-payment”, many will also need to consider offering “e-ordering”.

That means they’ll have to sign on with online delivery platforms.

Mrs Teo is confident that this new challenge can be overcome.

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After all, we’ve managed to help a majority of hawkers adopt e-payment, so “e-ordering” should be possible too, she added.

2 ministers to help hawkers adopt online delivery

Mrs Teo has called on Mr Tan Kiat How, who’s the Minister of State under her in MCI, to help hawkers get onto online delivery platforms.

This is to give their efforts “an added push”, she added.

Mr Tan, in his own Facebook post, said he readily agreed to the job as he believes we can do more to help hawkers.

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He intends to call upon companies from the private and public sectors for help.

Dr Amy Khor, who is Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, will be supporting him.

She said on Facebook that she’ll be happy to see how the Government can further encourage hawkers to adopt food delivery.

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$500 given to 1,300 hawkers to adopt food delivery

Dr Khor also revealed that the National Environment Agency (NEA) supported hawkers who wanted to go on food delivery apps or hire people to deliver food.

The $500 grant was given to 1,300 hawkers.

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Initiatives such as Hawkers Go Digital and the Food Delivery Booster Package by Enterprise Singapore have also helped.

Help for hawkers already available

In the meantime, help is already available for hawkers who need help going digital.

About 1,000 digital ambassadors, wearing purple T-shirts, are making their rounds on the ground, said Mr Tan.

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Hawkers can go to them for help or call the IMDA hotline at 6377 3800.

Support our hawkers who’re still offline

Considering many of our local hawkers are digitally disadvantaged, they’ll need all the help they can get to offer online delivery.

Thus, it’s good that after much help from the community, the authorities are starting to see how they can help further.

In the meantime, let’s support our local hawkers who’re still offline by tapaoing from them during this difficult period.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook.