THERE is an urgent need to draw up new by-laws to deal with the increasing number of unlicensed street vendors in Petaling Jaya.
This is because the existing guidelines for businesses do not include street traders and they are always turned away when applying for a licence at the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ).
MBPJ does not recognise street hawkers or food truck operators, at the moment, although they make up a big number in the business industry.
“They always turn me away although I tried applying for a licence a number of times,” said a street hawker Law Kean Lok.
Law sells Chinese herbal drinks from his truck in Section 1, Old Town in Petaling Jaya, and has been parked there for 19 years.
He inherited the business from his mother and had been trying hard to get a licence to trade there legally, ever since.
“I got quite a number of summonses from MBPJ before and I really hope they will issue licences to us soon,” he said.
Also trading in the same area is fruit seller Hasnah Othman who operates from a three-wheel bike on a road shoulder.
For about nine years, Hasnah has been facing the same problem as Law and had been issued summonses by authorities a few times.
Recently, MBPJ enforcement officers seized her goods without any warning or notice, leaving her out of business for about a week.
“They just came so suddenly and it was shocking because they have never seized items before. It is usually just a compound” she said.
To get their items back, Hasnah and Law had to pay about RM400 each.
“This is a burden as I did not earn anything for a week and yet had to pay RM400.
“I am not making much these days as business has been bad,” she said.
Hasnah, Law and a few other street traders sought the assistance of Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv to resolve their plight.
“I have raised this issue with the MBPJ enforcement head along with councillors in the licensing committee.
“They all agreed that this is a pressing issue and can no longer be overlooked,” said Rajiv.
According to the Statistics Department, there are about 13.2 million workers in Malaysia.
Out of that figure, 10% or 1.3 million workers make up the informal sector comprising of unlicensed businesses.
In Selangor alone, there are 200,000 workers and 15% of that figure are unlicensed.
“This is actually a huge figure and MBPJ agrees that regulating and licensing the unlicensed traders is an important matter and should not be taken lightly,” he said.
A check at MBPJ showed that 92 summonses had been issued to unlicensed street hawkers in the Section 1 Old Town area alone last year.
Rajiv added that MBPJ should consider issuing licences to some of the pioneer traders in the area and move the rest to a more suitable location.
“I urge all councillors to do the same for their own areas to help the street hawkers there,” he said.
More priority should be given to poor hawkers who cannot afford to pay rental at proper stalls.
These traders should be licensed by MBPJ for them to trade legally either on the five-foot way or road shoulder.
He added that MBPJ’s licensing committee would look into finding a solution for this issue soon.