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Street Markets Return to Chinatown in Singapore

Travel News Asia 2 January 2003

Street markets are to be placed along three streets in Singapore's' Chinatown from the second quarter of 2003. Two of these streets - Pagoda Street and part of Trengganu Street - have been pedestrianised and are closed to vehicular traffic from 11am to 12 midnight daily. Works to pedestrianise Sago Street and the remaining portion of Trengganu Street will begin on 10th February 2003 and is expected to take four months. During these four months, there may be occasions when Sago Street will be closed to vehicular traffic to facilitate the construction works. When the pedestrianisation work is completed, Sago Street and the short portion of Trengganu Street that joins Smith Street to Sago Street will be closed to vehicular traffic during specific periods to facilitate the operation of the street markets.

To improve the traffic flow circulation when the streets are closed for the operation of the street markets and food stalls, the stretch of Smith Street between New Bridge Road and the entrance of the Chinatown Complex carpark will be converted to a two-way street from 9th January 2003. The rest of Smith Street shall remain a one-way road heading towards South Bridge Road. This conversion is timed ahead of the Chinatown Lunar New Year celebrations to facilitate the annual Festive Market which opens from 18 to 31 January 2003.

The two-way conversion provides a direct route for motorists leaving Chinatown Complex carpark to join New Bridge Road. Currently, these motorists need to use a much longer route via Trengganu Street, Sago Street, South Bridge Road and Keong Saik Street.

When the streets are closed for the operation of the market and food stalls, Smith Street will become a two-way, no-through road that leads only to Chinatown Complex. Signage will be put up along New Bridge Road to inform motorists of the closing hours of the Smith Street. During the closing hours, motorists are advised to enter Smith Street only if they need to access Chinatown Complex. This will ensure a smoother traffic flow.

The street market project is in response to several dialogues with stakeholders and interest groups, who have called for the introduction of more activities to inject street life back to Chinatown.

There will be more than 100 street stalls on all three streets. Stalls on Pagoda and Trengganu Streets are expected to start operating business in April - to coincide with the opening of the new Chinatown Mass Rapid Transit station. In June, the stalls on Sago Street will open.

The street stalls will open daily, selling items such as antiques, souvenirs, dried foods, toys, arts and crafts.

Mr Edmund Chua, Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) Deputy Director for Thematic Development, said: "We approach every project in Chinatown with sensitivity because of its significance to the people living in the district and many other local residents who frequent this place. We work with researchers, historians, and former residents to bring about an authentic way to bring life back to Chinatown. The Street Market project is an example of our close collaboration with stakeholders in Chinatown."

STB has appointed the Chinatown Business Association (CBA) to operate the Street Market. CBA will develop the product mix to appeal to the locals and overseas visitors.

The CBA's Chairman, Mr Wong Chi Keong, commented: "We plan to organise regular street performances at the Street Market. The selection of entertainment programmes will reflect Chinatown's diverse cultural heritage and will include performances in Cantonese and those of other dialects to reach out to a wide audience."

The Street Market is part of the Chinatown Experience Guide Plan, to revitalise Chinatown by introducing a more exciting and vibrant experience for local residents and tourists while preserving the area's unique heritage and character. It is a multi-agency effort spearheaded by the STB and supported by Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee and CBA, a non-profit organisation made up of stakeholders of Chinatown which has been actively involved in the conceptualisation of Street Market.

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