HDB clarifies it cannot interfere in sale of privately-owned wet markets

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has said it cannot take over the wet markets owned by private operators or interfere with the commercial negotiation between the new owner and the stallholders when such wet markets change hands.

The HDB also cannot “impose new requirements that are more stringent on the new owner, compared to those already imposed on the existing one”.

HDB said this in a statement on Wednesday in response to recent media reports on the concerns of some stallholders affected by the sale of five wet markets owned by a commercial operator.

These five markets are located in Choa Chu Kang Street 62, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1, Serangoon Avenue 3, Bukit Batok West Avenue 8 and Fajar Road.

Some of the stallholders have asked the government to intervene so that they can retain their stalls at current rents after the change in the commercial owner of the wet markets.

HDB explained that the existing owner, Heeton, bought four of the five wet markets through separate tenders called by HDB in 1994 and 1996 and one wet market through a resale.

The existing stallholders are, therefore, tenants of Heeton and not HDB. They are also not the former street hawkers who were resettled in centres that are now managed by the National Environment Agency.

HDB said it “understands the concerns of the stallholders that there may be changes to their terms and conditions for tenancy after the sale of the wet markets to a new commercial owner”. But it cannot interfere as “the sale of the wet markets is a property transaction between two private parties”.

The new owner, Sheng Siong Property, has informed HDB that it is prepared to continue renting out the wet market stalls to the existing stallholders. It will need to discuss the terms and conditions with affected stallholders after the sale of the wet markets is completed.

For affected stallholders who would like to look for alternative stalls, HDB can refer them to vacant market stalls in NEA-managed centres.

HDB will also ensure that the marketing needs of residents are not compromised in the process. Hence, it has disallowed the conversion of the wet markets to supermarkets based on the reasons explained earlier.

HDB will work closely with the local advisers, grassroots leaders and the various stakeholders to manage the change in ownership at the five affected wet markets.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 21 Oct 2009

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