Over 2 million visitors to Ramadan bazaar so far, set to be largest on record
More than two million people have visited the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar since it opened on March 17, said Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Associate Professor Faishal provided the figure at the halfway mark of the bazaar’s 36-day run, adding: “We are already set to be on record of having the largest number of people coming to a Ramadan bazaar in Singapore.”
The Straits Times has contacted Wisma Geylang Serai, the social and cultural heritage hub in Geylang Serai led by the People’s Association, for details on the existing record attendance at the bazaar.
This year’s Ramadan bazaar is the longest-running one yet. In previous years, the bazaar’s first day usually coincided with the start of the Muslim fasting month. However, the 2023 event began five days earlier to coincide with the festive light-up of Geylang Serai, and will end on the eve of Hari Raya Puasa on April 21.
Other trade fairs or bazaars in Singapore in 2023 tend to run between three and 30 days.
But the Geylang Serai bazaar, which has 700 stalls this year, has been mired in complaints from the start.
A few days into the start of the bazaar, media outlets reported that more than a quarter, or nearly 200, of the stalls had still not been taken up by vendors.
The Straits Times and other media outlets then discovered that rental prices went as high as up to $24,000, which some kebab vendors were paying, despite organisers and Wisma Geylang Serai earlier saying that rental would range from $2,000 to $19,000.
Apart from the high rentals, ST also reported that some stallholders were unhappy about unfulfilled promises from the organisers that they would be the exclusive sellers of a certain food type in a particular zone.
For example, one kebab stallholder said he did not get the exclusivity he was promised after having forked out $24,000 for his stall, and had to compete with another kebab shop less than 50m away. The other kebab seller also allegedly received a verbal agreement from the organisers that there would be no other competitor in the same zone.
Many stallholders were concerned that they would not be able to recoup their investment as they had to pay for the cost of utilities as well. In addition to the rental, all stallholders also paid for incidental costs of between $30 and $3,100, for utilities, water supply, fans, coolers, and tables and chairs.
The bazaar is managed and operated by a consortium made up of S-Lite Event Support, TLK Trade Fair and Events, and Enniche Global Trading.
On Tuesday, the organisers said that the rental costs of its retail stalls (from $2,000 to $12,000) and food stalls ($14,000 to $19,000) are within market rental rates.
They added that those who wanted to sell Ramly burgers and kebabs had to pay a premium, as these were deemed premium products – only 20 of the 150 food and beverage stalls sell them.
Ramly burger vendors had to pay a $4,000 premium on top of the $14,000 to $19,000 base rental, while stallholders selling kebabs paid a base rental of $25,000.
The organisers said they limited the number of Ramly burger and kebab stalls in the bazaar, because if there are too many stalls selling the same product in the same zone, it could “lead to price wars, which would be highly detrimental to the stallholders” and limit options for visitors.
In his Facebook post, Prof Faishal said some vendors who spoke to him during his visits to the bazaar said “many of the businesses are doing very well, and some have even covered their rental cost after a week”.