Overcrowding has become a safety issue at Mustafa Centre, and the management has expanded its premises to accommodate more shoppers.
This is in response to a possible Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) court order.
If confirmed, the first storey of the 24-hour shopping centre risks being temporarily closed.
The centre, which sees up to 10,000 shoppers daily, has expanded certain areas in its premises by removing shelves so that more shoppers can move around, on top of other measures to control human traffic.
The management has installed a numbering system showing how many are entering the store by the minute. When it exceeds the limit prescribed by the SCDF, crowd controllers prevent others from going in.
At any time, the first storey is only allowed 431 people.
The problem has persisted even after Mustafa Centre opened a new wing across the street, as some shoppers still insist on heading to the old premises.
Said Shamim Ahmad, manager of Building Maintenance & Safety at Mustafa Centre: “When we stop them, they get angry. They get fed up. Sometimes, they say ‘no need to come to Singapore, we’ll go Dubai instead’. But at the end of the day we have to stop, because this is related to the safety of the people.”
Another problem is the unlicensed use of corridor space around the centre, meant to be cleared for fire exits.
The management said it only uses the space to sell more products during festive periods.
Nevertheless, the SCDF said they need a permit to do so.
In the past three years, Mustafa Centre has chalked up 37 fire safety violations. In January, it was fined S$17,000.
The hearing for the court injunction has been adjourned to next Wednesday.
Source : Channel NewsAsia – 31 Mar 2010