The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (“FEHD”) launched a five-year “Assistance Scheme for Hawkers in Fixed-pitch Hawker Areas” (“the Assistance Scheme”) on 3 June 2013. The Assistance Scheme aimed to provide financial assistance to hawkers in the 43 fixed-pitch hawker areas for stall reconstruction and relocation in order to expedite the forward movement of the work in reducing fire risks. Besides, an ex-gratia payment ("EGP") was offered for voluntary surrender of hawker licence so as to expedite the release of vacant pitches and hence facilitated the relocation of stalls which pose higher fire risks.
The Assistance Scheme
The Assistance Scheme implemented with the following features -
- hawkers who were required by FEHD to move their stalls to new pitch spaces for fire safety reasons might apply for a one-off relocation cum reconstruction grant;
- hawkers who were not required to relocate their stalls under (a) may apply for a one-off in-situ reconstruction grant to carry out partial or full reconstruction of their stalls in-situ for reducing fire risks; and
- an EGP would be paid to hawkers (except those whose licences were newly issued pursuant to the hawker licensing policy review in 2008-09) who opted for voluntary surrender of their hawker licences to the Government.
Situation of hawker areas
In June 2013, there were around 4,300 fixed-pitch hawker stalls in 43 hawker areas. By fall 2017, all 508 hawker stalls which were located directly in front of staircase discharge points of adjacent buildings, or obstructing the operation of fire engines or emergency vehicular access and/or operation of aerial ladders, thus posing higher fire risks have been either relocated from original pitch sites or demolished as a result of surrender of hawker licence for EGP.
The Assistance Scheme ended on 2 June 2018. Among the 4,329 hawker stalls, there are 854 applications for surrender of hawker licences for EGP, 422 applications for relocation cum reconstruction grant and 3,002 applications for in-situ reconstruction grant to upgrade hawker stalls to the required fire safety standard according to designated specifications. In other words, 98.8% of the licensed hawkers in 43 hawker areas have joined the Assistance Scheme since its commencement. By 31 March 2019, out of the 3,424 applications for stall reconstruction, 3 420 stall structures have been set up (Examples). Besides, there are 48 hawkers who have set up their stalls according to designated specifications on their own accord.