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Thursday August 21, 2008

Plaza Taman Sri Muda stands idle as traders stay away

A MULTI-MILLION ringgit complex which houses a modern market, bazaar-style shopping facilities and two food courts at Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam is now standing almost idle like a white elephant.

Due to the apparent lack of confidence from the market traders and foodstall operators, what is supposed to be a model business complex with a clean and pleasant environment is almost deserted except for some stalls and the post office on the ground floor.

The almost forsaken three-storey Plaza Taman Sri Muda, which has more than 100 trading lots at its well-designed ground floor wet market, was completed about two years ago but things never seems to be going in the right direction since then.

StarMetro visited the Plaza Taman Sri Muda on Sunday and found out that most of those who bought the trading lots are traders from the existing market cum hawker centre.

A hive of activity: A bird’s eye view of the old market from the complex

They are reluctant to move from the nearby existing outdoor lots for which they are paying rental due to fear of poor business at the new market.

These traders are blaming the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) for approving the new complex and yet allowing the old open-air market to continue operation.

They said that by allowing the old market to continue operation, the MBSA was indirectly discouraging the market traders to move into the Plaza Taman Sri Muda.

And to make things worse, they are also disturbed by the news that the MBSA had given approval for the construction of another private market in the area.

StarMetro observed that the presence of the old market just across the road from the Plaza Taman Sri Muda, along with food stalls indiscriminately positioned outside the building, are an eyesore.

On Sunday, when StarMetro visited the complex, it was almost deserted with only a few trading lots at the modern market occupied.

What a waste: The clean but deserted wet market at Plaza Sri Muda.

Traders at some of the few retail outlets complained of poor business.

Only a few stalls were open at the two food courts, one halal and the other non-halal, on the first floor. In fact, no one was seen trading at the non-halal food court.

The check also revealed that only those shops on the ground floor facing the road are almost fully taken up.

The Plaza Taman Sri Muda offers visitors the convenience of an escalator and parking facility on the second and third floors, in addition to some outdoor parking spaces.

Plaza Taman Sri Muda manager Alex Yan said that the complex was built by YKF Development and most of the 270 trading lots at the market, the shops, retail outlets and office lots had been sold.

Yan said that initially, the traders, including those from the existing outdoor market, operated business at the complex but they decided to close their lots due to poor business.

Apparently, the customers prefer to stroll and shop at the open-air market, instead of doing their marketing at the modern complex.

“The developer cannot be held responsible for the failure since this complex was built following approval from the MBSA,” Yan said.

Big and roomy: The plaza gives a nice image to the Sri Muda town.

“All the conditions stipulated by the council, including having a separate halal food court with 25 trading lots, had been met,’’ he said.

Yan said the Plaza Taman Sri Muda offered a cosy atmosphere for shoppers and it was perhaps the only one of its kind in the state.

Plaza Taman Sri Muda pro-tem traders association chairman M. Doraisamy said he couldn’t understand why a complex of this kind had became a flop.

He said this was an unique place offering people with a one-stop shopping environment.

“They can go marketing for fish and vegetables, have their breakfast or lunch or just refreshment, shop for clothes and get whatever they want under one roof,” Doraisamy said.

“This is actually a shopping mall which housed a business centre and a market, I’m sure the complex will become a big hit in the near future,’’ he said.

Doraisamy urged those who had bought trading and business lots at the Plaza Taman Sri Muda to start operation there.

Coconut seller S. Munusamy, 60, who operates near the wet market, said he had bought the retail lot at RM105,000 but business at the modern market was very poor.

“I have been operating since the first day and I don’t know when all the traders will come in,’’ he said.

Vegetable seller Chong Ah Mooi, 58, who is trading at the old market, said she bought three lots at the complex and is facing a tough time servicing her monthly instalments.

“They told us that the old market will be demolished and that is why I bought the lots at the new market but now we are in pain since the old market is still drawing the crowd,’’ she said.

Sundry stall operator Yap Foo Ming said his rental at the old market was only RM300 while lots at the Plaza Taman Sri Muda was going for RM700.

He said the price of the trading lot at the complex was too high and he could not afford it. “I did not buy a unit there and I hope the outdoor market will continue to exist,’’ he said.

According to Yap, most of the people had been trading at the old market for more than 15 years.

M. Prakash, who has a unit at the Plaza Taman Sri Muda, said the market traders were in a fix over the situation and hoped it would be resolved soon.

According to Prakash, he and many other traders, were facing financial constraints after purchasing the trading lots at the complex since they were not operating business there.

“The MBSA should restructure the market so that everyone will benefit,’’ he said.

D. Viamala, who sells imitation jewellery and accessories on the ground floor of the complex, said her business was slowly picking up.

“I have been here for more than two years and I think the business here will only get better in the future,’’ she said.

According to MBSA public relations officer Shahrin Abdullah, the council had been holding discussions with the traders of the old market, including those who had bought trading lots at the Plaza Taman Sri Muda, to ways to resolve the issue.

“There has been a series of meetings and we hope to resolve the issue soon,’’ he said.

Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Maria Mahmud said she had held discussions with the traders, Plaza Taman Sri Muda management, MBSA officials and nearby residents on the issue and felt that the MBSA was in the best position to resolve the problem.

On the plan for the construction of another market in the same area, Maria said she hoped that the Plaza Taman Sri Muda and the new market would complement each other.

“I have suggested that the trading lots at the plaza be used for dry goods while the new market be used for wet items,’’ she said.

Maria said that the MBSA should also do everything possible to help make the plaza a vibrant marketing and shopping hub.

From various feedbacks, StarMetro feels that so long as the old outdoor market continues to operate, the people will not flock to the Plaza Taman Sri Muda.

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