28 May 2013

NEA, Stall-Holders vs AHPETC — Cleaning High Areas at Food Centres

Stall-holders at food centres at blocks 511 and 538 Bedok North Street 3 were displeased after they were informed by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council ("AHPETC") that they had to pay for the scaffolding needed to facilitate the semi-annual washing of ceilings and exhause ducts of the market and food centres.  Previously, the scaffolding was provided by the cleaning contractor.

According to AHPETC, the scaffolding was to have been provided for cleaning the high areas.  However, on the day of the cleaning, there was no scaffolding, so the cleaners could only clean the reachable areas but not the ceiling or exhaust ducts.

Stall-holders at the food centre at block 511 were informed that they had to pay extra to have the ceilings and exhaust ducts washed because AHPETC's cleaners did not cover areas that were more than 2.5 metres from the ground.

A National Environment Agency spokesperson was quoted by the media as saying that "AHPETC is supposed to conduct regular spring cleaning including the ceilings, exhaust systems, fans, lights and other fixtures.  There should not be any additional charges since the town council collects service and conservancy charges from the hawkers on a monthly basis."

A representative of the stall-holders was quoted by the media as saying that "it is for the new town council [AHPETC] to negotiate with the cleaners to include the cleaning of high areas."

The media reports are confusing, to say the least.
Did the problem arise because the cleaning contract excluded the provision and erection of requisite scaffolding?  Did the managing agent intend to source for the scaffolding separately or did the managing agent not notice that the provision and erection of the scaffolding was excluded from the cleaning contract?
Or, did the problem arise because the cleaning contract did not provide for cleaning of anything more than 2.5 metres above the ground?  This seems to be the case, judging from the comments attributed to NEA and the stall-holders' representative.  In this case, it is only reasonable that the stall-holders pay for cleaning of parts of the food centres that are more than 2.5 metres above the ground.  Alternatively, the service and conservancy charges will have to be raised to account for these semi-annual cleaning charges.  Or, everyone in AHPETC has to bear the cost, but that would hardly be fair.
The cost of the semi-annual cleaning exercise should be borne by the stall-holders, either as part of the monthly service and conservancy charges or as and when they are incurred.
Still, if any extra costs are due to AHPETC's oversight, AHPETC should hold the party accountable in its performance appraisal/review.
AHPETC is managed by The Workers' Party, the media reminded their readers.
1. Stallholders in Row with WP Town Council The Straits Times 26 May 2013 8:33 a.m.

2. Hawkers See Red Over Extra Cleaning Charges xinmsn news 26 May 2013 6:45 p.m.


  1. Great if AHPETC can be completely transparent as it will give all of us into an insight on machinations of Town Councils that impacts all of us - we can compare apple to oranges or apple to apple and decide if the apple or orange is the real fruit. CAT management will be great for all rate payers -
    Competence - Accountability-Transparency - it has worked wonders in Penang.

  2. That new addendum of only cleaning 2.5m from the ground could be problematic, as most foreign objects don’t come from ground level. Cleaning the fans and vents are important, especially in areas that deal with selling foodstuffs.

    Staci Severns