HAWKERS from the iconic Bedok Food Centre are worried about possible rent hikes after they move to a new centre.
At yesterday's East Coast Remaking Our Heartland launch, six representatives peppered Senior Minister S. Jayakumar and fellow East Coast GRC MP Lee Yi Shyan with questions about their future after their lease expires in May 2014.
Last month, about 50 of the 70 hawkers there had petitioned the Government to retain the centre.
Yesterday, they were happy to hear that a new food centre will be built next to the existing one, and that they would be given priority at the new site, targeted to be completed by the time the lease expires. But it has not been decided whether the new centre will be run by the National Environment Agency or a private developer.
'If a private developer takes over, the rent can reach $5,000 to $6,000 a month,' said fishball noodle seller Richard Teo, 51, chairman of the centre's hawkers' association, who initiated last month's petition. The stall owners now pay $1,100 to $1,400 a month.
'We don't want to raise our food prices because of the rent,' said wanton noodle seller Ivy Tan, 47. 'This is a place for HDB heartlanders to have their three meals.' The hawkers said Mr Lee had told them that more details would be available in one or two weeks.