Inspection: A popiah seller (left) at the SS2 Chow Yang night market having her licence inspected by MBPJ Licensing Department officers during the month-long census. With the trader and officers is Lee (in light blue shirt).
THE Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is carrying out a four-week census of the SS3 and SS2 Chow Yang night markets in an effort to reorganise the two markets before taking the initiative to the rest of the city.
MBPJ councillor for SS2 Lee Suet Sen said there had been several complaints of unlicensed traders as well as cleanliness and traffic issues, especially at the Chow Yang market.
“These night markets have become fixtures in Petaling Jaya. We aim to revamp and upgrade them and, if possible, turn them into tourist attractions,” Lee said.
The census aims to discover the actual number of traders doing business in the markets, which will help council officers reallocate trading spaces.
MBPJ Environmental Health deputy director Ravindran V. Perumal said the census would take about a month to complete.
“It is spread over four weeks so no one will be left, including unlicensed traders carrying out businesses in the night markets.
“We will help them obtain licences so that the market is well oganised,” he said.
Ravindran added that it might be necessary to introduce a code scheme for night market traders to help both traders and council officers determine who are legitimate.
Lee added that the minimal entry requirements, such as a licence fee costing only RM208, were to allow anyone who was interested to set up stalls in night markets.
“However, sub-letting the licence is against council by-laws, which state that the licence holder must also be the stall operator,” he said.
On cleanliness, Ravindran said the council was currently working on a point system that would emphasise collective responsibility.
“The collective responsibility mechanism for handling site cleanliness is still being drawn up and we will introduce a pilot project in the SS3 night market, pending an official announcement from the mayor,” said Ravindran.
Petaling Night Market Hawkers’ Association chairman Lee Sau Kwong said the census was a good step towards resolving long-standing issues.
“Usually, these are family businesses and if the licence holder is ill or not around, family members step in to help out. Council officers need to understand that as well,” said Lee.
Association secretary C. K. Cheong said the association hoped to function as the proper intermediary between traders and council.
The association is also looking at reintroducing Rela volunteers to help direct traffic during the Chow Yang night market.
“If we can revamp and raise our night markets’ standards to that of Shihlin, Taiwan or Hong Kong as viable tourism destinations, our efforts would have been successful,” said Lee.