A MAJORITY of food operators in downtown Johor Baru have become home-based as they can no longer afford to pay rental for their premises.
Johor Baru City Businessmen and Traders Association (JBCBTA) president Roland Lim Chin Eng said business was down by 50% to 70% since March last year.
He said that while some hawkers had decided to operate from home, others had closed for good.
“That was their only option as they had exhausted all other avenues, ’’ he said when contacted.
Lim said the pressing problem faced by the association’s 150 members was rental, as most of their landlords wanted them to continue paying although their income had dropped.
JBCBTA members are involved in running food stalls, coffeeshops, restaurants as well as sundry shops and goldsmith outlets.
He said food-related businesses were the most badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order.
“We are appealing to the government to allow customers to dine in at food outlets during MCO 3.0 apart from permitting takeaway.”
JB Bazaar Traders Association chairman Roslan Abd Hamid said the association would submit an appeal letter to the state government and Johor National Security Council to allow them to continue operating during MCO 3.0.
He said the pandemic had badly impacted the association’s 200 members.
Roslan said their income was down by 75% to 85% on average since March last year.
“Business started to improve slightly when we were allowed to operate during this year’s Ramadan under MCO 2.0, but we had to stop because of MCO 3.0.’’
He said the traders were also not allowed to operate three days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“We cannot do much now except stay at home.
“We hope the latest MCO will not be extended after June 7, ’’ said Roslan.
He said although Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) had waived the RM100 monthly rental when business at the bazaar was temporarily suspended during the first MCO in March last year, it had not had much of an impact.
He proposed that MBJB extend operating hours from 6pm to 2am, instead of keeping to the 10pm deadline.
“Most of our customers only start coming from 9pm onwards, ’’ he said.
Roslan noted that JB Bazaar –- better known as Pasar Karat –- had not only been popular with locals but also Singaporeans and Indonesians pre-pandemic.
But the number of visitors to the site in Jalan Segget had gone down drastically.
“We were barely able to make ends meet even when it was allowed to open, ” he said.