Wider walkways and accessibility ramps - these are some new elderly-friendly features that the newly renovated Bukit Merah View Food Centre and Market has.
And for long-term patrons like Mr Francis Tan, 80, these mean a much easier trip to get his cup of coffee and breakfast every morning. The retired businessman uses a mobility scooter as he is unable to walk well, after a heart bypass surgery.
"The whole place is newer and fresher and it is wide enough so I can go through easily," he said.
The hawker centre celebrated its reopening yesterday after two months of closure.
It started operations again last month after being refurbished under the Town Council's Repairs and Redecoration programme. Works under the programme are usually carried out every five years.
The centre, which has been standing for over 40 years, now has upgraded facilities like free Wi-Fi. It has about 84 cooked food stalls and over 70 market and lock-up stalls.
It also has more senior-friendly features, such as barrier-free access and wider ramps. Slip-resistant flooring was also installed.
Mr Tan Tek, 70, chairman of the Bukit Merah View Merchants Committee, said the area has more elderly people as it is an old estate, which makes the senior-friendly facilities especially important.
The centre also has a new information panel on the facade of the market. This was suggested by stallholders who said patrons did not know there were sundry shops behind the cooked food stalls.
More fans were also added to the centre, as well as extended awnings to prevent rain from splashing in.
Grassroots advisers Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, and Joan Pereira, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, were at the reopening. Mr Chan said: "To do up a hawker centre that is nice, functional and safe... requires the feedback, suggestions and actions of (the residents)... We can build the buildings and the houses, but more importantly, we need you to help us to build the homes."
While renovations slightly affected stallholders' businesses, Ms Pereira said people will return once they realise the place has been reopened. "We have informed residents that it has opened again during home visits. The period of closure also coincided with the year-end lull when people prepare to go on holiday, so when the new year comes around, I think residents will be back to the centre."
Housewife Yeo Ah Sai, 88, a Bukit Merah View resident and patron at the market for the past decade, said: "It used to be narrow and the floor at the wet market area could be very slippery. Now, it feels safer to walk and much more comfortable."
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.