I am writing in because my company has been unfairly treated in our Food Shop
licence application. To think that despite Singapore achieving its SG50 this
year, inequality still exists today’s society. Our application took more
than 3 months and still it has not been approved and the case shifted from
NEA Bukit Merah to NEA HQ and till now no outcome was given.

My company tried to apply for a Food Shop licence at Alexandra Road where we
are operating a Restaurant. The shop is located on the first floor of a
Condominium building. In that very same building, there is another Restaurant
which can obtain its licence. Both our shop units are similar in size and
have the same number of hoods.

Issue of content here is our shop was not granted a licence to operate
whereas the other shop obtained. Reason given was that our exhaust flue was
not constructed to the roof top hence no approval can be given. Yet, the
other unit was given an approval but their exhaust is also not constructed to
the roof top. They constructed it in the refuse bin centre. Yes! The refuse
bin centre where all the daily rubbish are thrown and gathered, where pests
roam around and where all bad air remained. I have attached a series of
photographs showing where our exhaust system end up and where the other shop
end up.

Look at the difference! We did it the hygienic way and ensure that while we
kept to rules & regulation, it is done in a proper and hygienic way. The
other shop in order to adhere to rules & regulation of situating the exhaust
away from the residents, decide to construct the system inside the refuse bin
centre where public will not know since they cannot see it. Does NEA or the
operator care if it’s hygienic? No obviously! All the air coming out from
the flue that gets circulated around together with the bad odour inside the
bin centre when the refuse bin centre closes daily at 5pm is sure to cause
problems. How about the pests that are roaming inside the bin centre? The bin
centre closes at 5pm and the shop closes at 10-11pm. After the shop closes,
is there any guarantee that the exhaust system does not serve as a
facilitating tunnel for the pests to roam between the centre and the shop
when the exhaust system is off? How about the hot air that gets circulates
inside the bin centre after the centre closes? No cause of worry for fire
safety issue?

We wrote in appeals after appeals (about 25 emails & calls) and the case is
still left dangling for so long. Calls and emails into relevant departments
reveal nothing and we have been told to wait and wait. Once in a while only
will we receive their email reply requesting us to wait. Otherwise we need to
call in to get verification that they have received our emails and check for
latest updates. We have been told to wait for so long and each time no
dateline was given and it has been an arduous period for us. We are only a
SME company and not only do we have to continue the upkeep of rental
expenses; we have workers to upkeep as well. The entire shop is fully
renovated and all other approvals have already been obtained. We are lacking
only the food shop licence and we are ready to start operation. All these are
wasting my company’s resources and it is taking a toll on us.

Others can take a Letter of Undertaking to obtain their approval but we are
unable to attain the same despite us writing the same undertaking letter. Why
is there such a difference in treatment and conclusion?

Now that we have escalated the case to NEA HQ, the case is left stagnant
there and NEA officers are now avoiding direct response with us by not
responding to our emails. What do all these reflect? Why are They are avoiding
any communication with us? 1 month time frame in NEA Bukit Merah is not
enough to close the case and they are dragging another month in NEA HQ. 3
months of waiting and no licence has been received and no indication is given.
This is not being fair to us because as one of the parties involved we should
be informed of any problems entailing this case and not be kept in the dark.
What happened to the efficiency of our local authorities?

We do not understand what the issue here is, that the case cannot be
concluded despite the authorities having months to resolve it. Does it mean
that we need to construct our exhaust system inside the refuse bin centre too
in order to get approval? Why is it so difficult to let us have an answer and
conclusion? All we ever wanted was fair treatment towards our case.

Frustrated Business Owner
A.S.S. Contributor

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