IT HAS yet to be named but residents in Overseas Union Garden (OUG) are already calling it their ‘new market’. After two years of construction, the latest landmark for the housing area is finally complete.
“I am eagerly awaiting the opening so I can shop there. It’s an improvement and we hope it will bring new business opportunities for the people,” said Overseas Union Garden Residents’ Association president Wong See Tin.
A former headmaster of SKJC Yoke Nam, Wong, 79, moved here in 1969 and witnessed the birth and transformation of the market.
“When I came here, the area only had an open-air market. There was no building yet,” he recalled.
The wet market, which was housed in a 40-year-old building, was finally torn down in 2014. The market traders moved to a hawker centre in Medan Hujan Rahmat and this became the community’s temporary wet market for two years.
According to developer Overseas Union Garden spokesman Kow Lai Chan, the new five-storey building will house a wet market on the ground floor and sundry shops on the second.
To maintain hygiene, no slaughtering will be done on the premise. The other floors will house a Chinese restaurant and sports and recreational facilities.
A badminton centre will occupy the top floor and there is talk that it will be run by a former national badminton champ but Kow said nothing had been confirmed yet.
Other facilities include a lift and toilets for the disabled.
Kow said the shoplots had been booked since last year and would be occupied by traders who have been operating since the days of the old market.
They also have more than a 100 names on the waiting list for lots.
“We are waiting for the certificate of fitness. Once it is approved, the traders can move in,” said Kow.
Overseas Union Garden Market Hawker Association representative Yap Wai said the new complex will provide a more conducive environment for traders and shoppers alike.
Yap, who has been selling vegetables here for the past 30 years, sees the new market as a sign of progress.
“At the old market, many of the facilities such as the public toilets and drainage were broken and dirty.
“Parking was also chaotic. The new market, I am told, will have more than 170 parking bays and a proper rubbish disposal system,” he said, adding that there were still a few issues to be ironed out, including the rental rates.
Yap Wa Thay, 64, who has been selling yong tau foo here for the past 30 years is now paying RM500 monthly for her lot at the hawker centre which measures 1.82m by 4.2m. Over in the new complex, the lots will be bigger (2.43m by 4.26m) and she is sure the rates will go up.
“If the rental is too high, it will be difficult to do business.
“This is because traders will have to pass the cost on to the customers. This will make them lose their competitive edge with the morning market hawkers operating just outside the new complex,” said Yap Wai.
Another problem is traffic congestion, a touchy issue as it will require the cooperation of the hawkers in the open air morning market which has been serving the community for the last 20 years.
“Prosperity will surely bring about congestion. That cannot be helped.
“But if the residents want a clean and orderly environment for their businesses to grow, they will have to follow the rules. The authorities and public transport bodies should exercise their powers to make this happen,” Wong said.
A one-way traffic system covering Jalan 16, Jalan Hujan Rahmat, Jalan Hujan Rahmat 1 and Jalan Hujan Rahmat 2 is being considered.
There is a snag, however, as the system runs smack into the trading area of the open air morning market hawkers in Jalan Hujan Rahmat 2.
“We don’t want to cause anyone to lose their rice bowl. But all parties should work together to create better business opportunities,” Wong said.
Open air market hawker Tong Ah Thye, who has served the community for 20 years, said until an official decision was made, both parties should maintain a respectful attitude towards each other’s businesses.
“The hawkers should each sell their own products.
“It would also help if the open air market and the indoor market didn’t have overlapping businesses,” said Tong.
According to Kuala Lumpur City Hall Licensing and Petty Traders Management department representative Suhaila Mohd Yusof, the original number of open air market stalls registered with DBKL stands at 90 in Jalan Hujan Rahmat and 38 in Jalan Hujan Emas.
Suhaila, who is the assistant chief for the Seputeh zone, said new applications for petty trading licences will have to go through a stringent process before approval.
This ensures the licences were only given to Malaysians and not foreigners and that operators who deal with food had obtained their typhoid jabs, for example.
“If you have a licence you can do business. If not, then you can’t. City Hall is very clear on that,” she said.