The owner of a porridge shop in 101 Yishun Avenue 5 has been accused of obstructing the second floor walkway of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) block.
The store is located on the ground floor, and the flat located directly above it is reported to be the workers' living quarters.
Shin Min Daily News (SMDN) received a tip-off from their reader, who wrote that the cardboard boxes placed outside the HDB flat were "piled up like a mountain".
He also complained that clothes racks added to the clutter.
The items placed outside the unit have apparently reduced the amount of walking space along the corridor, and the reader believes that the passageway is less than the 1.2 metres required according to the Fire Safety Guidelines for HDB Estates published by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
A SMDN reporter paid a visit to the said location, and found that there were over 10 cardboard boxes placed outside the unit. Three to four clothes racks were also placed in front of the door of the neighbouring flat.
According to their observations, the two flats seem to be linked from the inside, but the front doors of both units were obstructed by boxes and clothes racks.
The flats are assumed to be the living quarters of the porridge shop workers, as there is a flight of stairs leading from inside the unit to the shop downstairs.
Residents worried about fire hazard
A 58-year-old resident who has been living in the block for 12 years told SMDN that he once saw the cardboard boxes stacked so high that they reached the ceiling.
He hopes that the authorities will notice what is happening and "take action" as he is "very worried that a fire will break out".
Another resident, a 60-year-old housewife, added that she is especially worried because of the recent increase in the number of fires in HDB blocks.
She shared, "The cardboard boxes which are stacked to the ceiling also completely cover the windows of the unit. That unit is located very close to the stairs, and this will affect the residents' evacuation should a fire break out."
A tutor who teaches on the second floor of the block pointed out that there are many students who visit the block for tuition classes at night, and warwd that the consequences will be "unimaginable" if the boxes catch fire.
Porridge shop owner refutes claims
SMDN reached out to those working at the porridge shop, who explained that they receive "close to 20 boxes" of you tiao and century eggs each day.
As there is nobody to collect the cardboard boxes, they end up leaving them along the second floor corridor to reuse.
The person-in-charge, 33-year-old Zhu Jianhao (name in hanyu pinyin) claimed that they have never obstructed the corridor in the six years that they have been in business there. He confirmed that the unit located above the stall is their staff's living quarters.
Zhu said, "We understand the residents' concerns, which is why we get someone to check the cardboard box situation every day. We've also installed a close-circuit television (CCTV) camera so that rats and cockroaches do not become a problem."
He explained that staff would cut up the boxes and use the cardboard to pad the bottom of plastic bags that customers use for takeaway orders.
According to Zhu, the boxes are cleared at least once every two days.
He expects the issue to be resolved in the next six months, as cooking will be done at their central kitchen by then. They will also ask for their suppliers not to provide cardboard boxes when delivering their goods.
Top photo from Shin Min Daily News