ALTHOUGH the Selangor Food Truck Regulations to regulate and license food trucks have been in place since September, many are still unclear about how these businesses operate.
In Petaling Jaya, for example, although there are clearly demarcated operating bays for food trucks, some food trucks park in normal bays or trade at any empty spot, causing congestion.
Licensed food trucks are supposed to operate from brightly painted orange bays with the words “Smart Trak” painted on them but whenever these bays are unoccupied, cars park there illegally.
These scattered bays can be found at the SS2 commercial area, Old Town Section 1, Section 14 and Section 52 New Town.
In Section 14, there was only one food truck selling burgers in the Smart Trak bay, while others were parked nearby but on public parking bays.
“Motorists are not allowed to park their cars at the Smart Trak bays even if they are vacant because they are designated as food truck lots,” said Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain when contacted, adding those who park there risked getting summoned, even with a valid parking ticket.
Regulating food trucks
So far 39 applications have been received for a food truck licence and only 23 have been licensed to-date, with 48 lots painted out of the 80 allocated.
There are another 22 mobile vendors who have shown interest and are in the midst of acquiring a proper food truck which fits the requirements in the guidelines.
“Food trucks must be held to a certain standard and our requirements are for them to have a sink, water outlet, exhaust fan and proper kitchen facilities” said Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Licensing head Sharinaz Samsudin.
She added that only those which fulfilled the requirements would be recognised as food trucks and given a licence to trade in the bays provided.
A new, fully equipped food truck can cost between RM70,000 and RM100,000. Those who require minimal facilities, typically spend about RM5,000 to modify their vehicles.
The city council does not consider mobile traders selling soya bean, rojak, cendol or banana fritters as food trucks but vans and their licence structure is different.
“These food vans can get a licence but they cannot stay in one place and have to move around certain areas as stated in their licence,” she said.
For example, a soya bean seller cannot be parked in one spot for the whole day but will have to drive around the designated areas without stopping for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Food trucks are given proper bays with three different sessions to choose from.
They are from 6am to 10am, 11am to 3pm or 5pm to midnight and each truck is limited to only two sessions in the same spot per day.
“We do not want trucks to park there day and night.
“As prime spots in commercial areas are limited, we want to give an opportunity to more mobile traders,” she said.
MBPJ has to-date identified 29 locations with a total of 80 lots to cater to 240 sessions daily.
Some of the food truck owners are unhappy about the locations given, saying they are hidden and not strategic.
“We are in the process of working with vendors and if their proposed location is suitable, we are open to relocating the Smart Truck bays,” said Sharinaz.
Most food vans are also not moving around like they should but are unwilling to convert their van to qualify for a food truck licence, she said.
Food van owners in Section 14 have agreed to convert their vehicles into a proper food truck under a pilot project which will be implemented elsewhere if successful.
According to Sharinaz, these existing food van traders will be given priority to choose the bays in their respective commercial areas.
“Food van owners who do not want to move around, risk having their items seized or licences revoked,” she said, adding in Section 14 alone, MBPJ had seized items from illegal vendors 59 times.
The situation elsewhere
Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) has also adopted the Selangor Government’s Food Truck guidelines.
MBSA’s Corporate Communications head Shahrin Ahmad said traders must comply with the guidelines to receive temporary permits.
They need to ensure their trucks have valid approval from Puspakom, the business is run by the permit owners and operations are conducted at two designated locations only.
“The permits are issued for a period of three or six months. They will be allowed to choose two sessions out of the three we have designated for them,” said Shahrin.
The three sessions are 7am to noon, 1pm to 6pm and 7pm to midnight at Jalan Tengku Ampuan Zabedah K 9/K Section 9 and Jalan Lebuh Keluli, Section 7 Shah Alam.
These food trucks can remain stationary and have to be fitted with a wash basin, twin sink, prep area, cooking facility, clean and dirty water tanks, grease trap and non-slip flooring.
Shahrin said in the past there were no regulations for food trucks and they were treated like any other moving van selling food and drinks.
“We allowed them to trade before the guidelines were introduced, provided they found locations that did not obstruct traffic and were clean,” he said.
The council’s aim, he added, was to provide a safe and clean environment customers and food truck operators.
Shahrin said the council had received 15 applications so far but believes more will sign up.
Traders only need to pay RM9.20 per session or RM276 a month.
Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) Licensing director Muhammad Azli Miswan said food trucks were doing well in the municipality.
“We follow the state’s guidelines for food trucks. Operators have to follow similar requirements imposed on hawkers like having to attend the necessary food handling courses and getting the required immunisation,” he said.
Muhammad Azli said there were about 50 registered food trucks in the municipality.
“But they are not operating every day. There are a few food truck zones in Jalan Kenari and Taman Perindustrian Kinrara,” he said.
Among the other hotspots are in SS14 opposite the Etiqa office, SS17 every weekend, Bandar Bukit Puchong every weekend and MPSJ’s headquarters in USJ 5 every first Wednesday of the month.