A GROUP of traders operating in the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) are concerned about cleanliness at the centre’s food court – a place they used to frequent daily for meals until a few months ago.
The traders claim they often spot baby cockroaches scurrying around certain food stalls when they visit the food court, while the stall owners pretend to take no notice of the pests.
A trader who wanted to be known only as Nina, 38, claimed she was shocked to see roaches the first few times it happened, but now she only keep quiet about it because it makes no difference.
“When we told the stall owners about it, they would only respond by saying ‘Ya kah? ’ or ‘Tak boleh nak buat apa-apa.’
“They don’t look the least bit concerned about it. They also told me that they can’t use pesticides because they don’t want to use such dangerous chemicals near the plates and food ingredients,” she told MetroPerak.
Nina said she is uncomfortable with the idea of confronting the stall owners in the event that it could lead to an argument.
“I operate here every day, and I still have to see these people (stall owners) on a daily basis so I didn’t want to fight with them.
“All I can do is to buy food elsewhere now instead of coming here to eat every day like I used to,” she said.
Another trader Nor Fazi Mohamad, 29, claims that she feels the owners of the roach-infested stalls had a “tidak boleh ditegur (cannot be reprimanded)” attitude.
“I know that if we don’t speak up to them, things will just remain the same, but I don’t think they will do anything about it even if we do speak up.
“It’s been months. And sometimes it’s not only one or two of the food stalls. Sometimes in one of the drink stalls I can detect the smell of cockroaches from the straws after buying a drink,” she claimed, adding that the cups looked dirty and unwashed as well.
Nor Fazi said she hope that Ipoh City Council health officers will at least drop by once a month to conduct cleanliness inspections.
“I run my business here every day, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any council officers coming in to check on the food stalls at the food court.
“Perhaps the stall owners will take warnings from authorities more seriously in comparison with being told off by normal traders like me,” she said.
Another concerned trader who wanted to be known only as Roy, in his 30s, has the same complaints as Nina and Nor Fazi. He says he has spotted baby cockroaches crawling about the food ingredients at the stalls.
“I’ve seen them crawling in the egg containers, and I felt disgusted.
“And I only spotted them halfway through my meal, so it was too late for me to do anything about it,” he said.
Roy also hopes that council officers will recognise this as a serious cleanliness issue and do something about it instead of allowing owners of dirty food stalls to continue operating.
“Don’t wait until cases of severe food poisoning are reported before action is taken,” he urged.
However, a check by MetroPerak at the premises of the food court revealed that the place was relatively clean and well-maintained, although a majority of the food stalls were closed at the time.
One of the customers who was dining there, Fazura Razak, in her 50s, said although she comes to the food court only a few times, she has never had an issue with the overall cleanliness of the place.
“I like the mee jawa here, my friend recommended for me to try it.
“I don’t come here often, but so far, everything seems okay to me. I’ve never spotted anything out of place,” she said.
Another customer, who declined to be named, shared the same sentiments.
“It’s my first time eating here, because it’s almost lunch time after I’m done handling my affairs at UTC, so I just came over.
“Things are okay here. It’s quite clean, the floors aren’t dirty,” he said.
When contacted, Ipoh City Council Public Relations Officer Mohd Shahrizal Azmi said the council has carried out inspections on the food court and reprimanded the stall owners for cleanliness problem.
“But, we have yet to receive a formal complaint from the public regarding this issue so far,” he said.