Here’s The Jurong West Hawker Centre Tray Return Fiasco Explained

Jurong West Hawker Centre Lodges Petition Against Tray Return System

Stall owners at Jurong West Hawker Centre are feeling the pinch from a system designed to keep hawker centres clean.

Apparently, hawkers have to pay patrons 20 cents every time someone returns a food tray. And stallholders say this additional expense is taking a toll on their bottom line.


Unusual practice

In response, 12 hawkers have gathered and signed a petition asking for the operator to remove the fee.

The petition was lodged in August with the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Koufu, which runs the hawker centre through its social enterprise subsidiary Hawker Management.

The hawkers’ argument is that Jurong West Hawker Centre is the only hawker centre in Singapore following this practice.

Customers receive 20 cents when they return their tray, yet do not pay anything to take a tray when they purchase food.

One stallholder had to pay close to $900 a month for the additional tray charges, on top of the $2,140 monthly rent and overhead costs.

This amounts to a whopping $3,000 per month, proving the cost to be too hefty.

System implemented to benefit both customers and stall owners

The tray return system was a joint effort by stallholders and the management, according to TODAY.

And stallholders were aware of the initiative when they signed their contracts.

The contract states that it is mandatory for stall owners to take part in the “tray return with an incentive system implemented by the landlord”.

It was initially implemented to achieve 2 goals:

1. To encourage patrons to return their trays, thus, creating a more comfortable and cleaner environment

2. To increase productivity within the hawker centre and provide cheaper food options for customers

They asserted that the effective tray-return system benefits both stallholders and patrons as it makes the cleaning of tables easier and quicker.

What next?

The Hawker Management told TODAY that the petition is currently under review.

Meanwhile, it appears that netizens are standing firmly by hawkers. A MustShareNews poll found that nearly 90 of respondents disagreed with Koufu’s policy.

We’re curious to see how this plays out in the coming weeks.

Featured image from Eatbook

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