Despite Singaporeans’ united efforts in supporting local hawkers that have resulted in snaking queues and sold-out menus, creative netizens continue to find ways to assist those who have fallen in between the cracks. 28 year-old Reddit user Waffleboy92, whose real name is M Thirukkumaran, created a Google Maps layer that is crowd-sourced and helps to give struggling hawkers some visibility online.
Hawkers have seen significant declines in business and profits ever since the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions were imposed, despite efforts from both the government and corporations such as Grab. Singaporeans who want to show their support but are unsure where and who to patronise can utilise this map to identify any digitally disadvantaged hawkers within their vicinity and make a trip down to tapau their next meal from them.
The small initiative started from a modest feature of 10 different stalls received slow traffic in the beginning, but it didn’t take long before it garnered overwhelming support from people islandwide. The map now features more than 200 hawkers, comes with some backstories on the plight of these hawker’s in their struggle to keep their livelihoods during the pandemic, and continues to grow regularly in traffic and featured stalls.
Users can download the map directly and link it with their Google Maps app to take advantage of navigation features. Since then, Thirukkumaran’s initiative has received outstanding support, with an offer from reddit user ubtokenceo to buy him a domain in order to boost this project. Hawkers and citizens alike can contribute to the featured stalls through a Google Form, where all the responses are collated and vetted.
Netizens are no strangers to various initiatives launched to keep our local hawker businesses up and running. These initiatives span a multitude of social media platforms, including @wheretodapao on Instagram and Hawkers United – Dabao 2020 on Facebook, showing how deeply Singaporeans love and cherish our hawker culture.
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