Singapore

Gas bill rebates for struggling hawkers up to December

It is a familiar story of tenacity by now: Hawker stalls hunkering down to keep on serving affordable and delicious food despite feeling the pinch amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zi char stall Quan Ji, which has operated out of Amoy Street Food Centre for the past 38 years, was hard hit by unprecedented work-from-home restrictions. It saw business drop by about 60 per cent during the circuit breaker last year.

"Our customers are mostly office workers, and there are not many residents nearby," said Mr Tony Siew, 48, who runs the stall with his parents and three workers.

While workers have started to return to the office, his takings are still 40 per cent below what they were pre-pandemic, said the third-generation hawker.

He said that every bit of help counts as they ride out this storm - including help from City Gas.

Mr Siew is one of more than 2,600 hawkers from 59 hawker centres in Singapore who will receive rebates totalling more than $1 million from the gas supplier.

Worth up to $100 a month - up to $400 in total - for each account holder, the rebates will be automatically deducted from the gas bills from this month to December.

City Gas said the average gas bill for hawker stalls is $300 to $400 a month.

The supplier has made the move as it recognises that hawkers provide basic daily meals for everyone in Singapore.

TURNING POINT

City Gas chief executive Perry Ong, said yesterday: "Hawkers in Singapore have been hit hard by the pandemic, and it is more important than ever to support them now.

"We are at a turning point for the hawker trade and for our nation, which is why City Gas feels we must do our part to help our local culinary heroes and preserve our local food heritage."

The rebates are on top of other initiatives by landlords, the community and the Government to support hawkers. These include rental waivers announced in May by the National Environment Agency as part of a $9 million relief package. - THE STRAITS TIMES

Food & Drink