Is the mandatory tray return policy working at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre?

Gabriel Choo
·Contributor
Trays and crockery cluttering tables during a recent visit. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
Trays and crockery cluttering tables during a recent visit. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

The Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre officially launched on 1 September, with some stalls starting operations from as early as mid-August. Managed by NTUC Foodfare, the hawker centre houses 43 food stalls offering local cuisines, cashless payment options and 900 seats.

It is also the first hawker centre in Singapore to impose a mandatory tray return policy – which doesn’t seem to be working. The policy, which was announced ahead of its opening, meant that cleaners at the hawker centre would only be tasked to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of the space, excluding the clearing of trays and used crockery.

However, during recent visits by Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore in the last week, many trays and used crockery were seen left uncleared on the tables.

A tray station at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
A tray station at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

While some patrons did comply with the hawker centre’s house rule, others were spotted leaving their trays and used crockery behind. Patrons who did not comply with the rule appeared to have turned a blind eye to the bold signs around the hawker centre reminding patrons to clear their tables. The tray return stations were not far away, either. Nevertheless, it was the cleaners who eventually had to clear after them.

After enquiring with NTUC Foodfare for comment, a spokesperson explained that the tray return policy was made to “contribute to the national movement towards social graciousness by making it obligatory to return the trays and crockery after each meal without the need for financial incentives or penalty”.

In response to the non-compliance of some patrons, they said, “We understand that such social conditioning will not happen overnight. But we believe that we can do our part to contribute to this social movement.”

Besides the signage to remind patrons to return their trays, staff are also required to remind people to comply with the rule. However, not all of them are brave enough to confront patrons.

While some patrons were spotted returning their trays (left), cleaners were also spotted doing the same. (Photos: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
While some patrons were spotted returning their trays (left), cleaners were also spotted doing the same. (Photos: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

“If the patrons refuse to clear their trays, we can’t possibly leave it there right? So of course we have to clean it in the end”, said a 60-year-old cleaner in Mandarin, who only wanted to be known as Ah Bao. “It really doesn’t matter what we are tasked to do – we have to do it if no one else will.”

Meanwhile, patron Stella Goh, 27, feels that it will take a while for Singaporeans to pick up the habit of returning their trays. “I think it is just not part of Singapore’s culture yet, but I do think that it is a habit that can be cultivated over time,” she said.

For Soo Yan Ting, 19, a patron who was spotted returning her tray, “I feel that returning trays is our duty, not a choice. If we can do it in schools, we can do it outside, too”.

Each stall offers at least two budget meals. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
Each stall offers at least two budget meals. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

Budget meals and popular foods at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre

Since the hawker centre opened, Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore has witnessed large crowds of diners enjoying the wide array of local cuisines and budget meals on offer.

Each stall is required to include at least two “budget meals” in their menu as part of NTUC Foodfare’s efforts to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy a satisfying meal at the hawker centre. A low-cost dish should not go beyond S$2.80. While it’s not compulsory for stalls to highlight the budget meals, it is pretty obvious in the menu.

For example, a stall selling western food offers dishes such as chicken baked rice and chicken chop rice, mostly priced at S$5 and above. Then there are the chicken wing rice and nugget rice, sold at S$2.80 each – much cheaper than the other dishes.

Some of the stalls at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre with longer queues. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
Some of the stalls at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre with longer queues. (Photo: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

Fifty per cent of dishes sold at individual hawker stalls are are required to conform to the “healthier choice” standard set by the Health Promotion Board (HPB). These meals require hawkers to use healthier oil, among others.

Some of the popular stalls at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre include the ones selling ban mian, western food, rojak and yong tau foo. Long queues at such stalls saw customers waiting up to nearly half an hour for their meals.

Clockwise: Minced Pork Noodle Soup, Chicken Chop, Egg Prata, Popiah. (Photos: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
Clockwise: Minced Pork Noodle Soup, Chicken Chop, Egg Prata, Popiah. (Photos: Gabriel Choo / Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

After trying several foods such as the minced pork noodle soup, chicken chop, egg prata and popiah, nothing stood out in terms of taste.

The Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre is located just next to Admiralty MRT Station and opens daily from 7am to 10.30pm.

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