In 2007, HDB introduced the Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) Scheme to help HDB shops enhance their business through injecting vibrancy and strengthening competitiveness.
Under ROS, HDB will co-fund promotional events and upgrading works to the common areas. It is a self-help programme and the local Merchant Associations must take the lead and work closely with shop owners.
One successful ROS project is the recent revamp of the Boon Lay Shopping Centre. It was a success only because of the tireless efforts of the stakeholders: the Boon Lay Merchants’ Association, the shop owners, HDB, and West Coast Town Council.
I checked it out last week. The before-and-after pictures say it all.
Apart from the courtyard, some of the old staircases were replaced with new escalators. It was a welcome addition which brings convenience for shoppers and hence additional customers for the shops in the higher level.
Boon Lay Shopping Centre saw many improvements under the ROS, such as toilet upgrading, new floor tiles, and a spruced up community corner for residents. The old rusty metal railings erected throughout the mall were replaced by stainless steel ones. Unsightly wires were concealed with newly installed cable trays.
HDB said that the shops did not have direct water supply before. Shop owners had to use the common sinks in the toilets. Responding to the shop owners’ feedback, water discharge points were installed in all shops under the ROS. Many of the shop owners I met welcomed this simple and yet important improvement.
With good planning and execution, ROS is a big positive for the shop owners and their customers. Including the Boon Lay Shopping Centre, 4,500 HDB shops in 51 HDB sites have benefited from the ROS scheme, with HDB spending about $7 million in co-funding to date.
Success of course did not come easy. It required hard work. In this case, the perseverance of the Boon Lay Merchants’ Association in pushing for the ROS for Boon Lay Shopping Centre was a critical factor. Not unexpectedly, they encountered some challenges along the way but they never gave up. They were convinced that ROS would be good for all and their persistence and hard work has paid off when we see the positive changes and greater vibrancy in the new centre.
The next batch of ROS sites will be announced soon. I am sure the other Merchants’ Associations will welcome the opportunity to revitalise their shops and remake our heartlands as has happened in Boon Lay.
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