YEARS of selling their goods from a dilapidated premises is not reason enough for traders at the Gunung Rapat and Pasir Pinji wet markets to agree to a rebuilding plan for the markets.
However, many many of those interviewed by MetroPerak say they are willing to agree to upgrades to the markets, provided there are proper discussions with every trader before deciding the best way to go about it.
The traders said they objected to earlier plans to rebuild the markets years ago due to concerns about their livelihoods, though they say they are fine with having parts of the markets renovated and cleanliness improved.
At the Pasir Pinji market, chicken trader Jerald Foo, 33, said the current state of the market is very dirty and smelly.
“There are a lot of rats here too. Although I do what I can to wash my stall, I think the Ipoh City Council workers aren’t doing a proper job in cleaning the entire market,” he told MetroPerak.
Like other traders, Foo was among many who objected to the state government and local authorities’ plans to rebuild five markets in Ipoh, including the Pasir Pinji and Gunung Rapat markets.
A verbal war ensued at the State Assembly sitting earlier this month between Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Opposition assemblymen over the issue from 2010.
Many of the assemblymen did not agree with Zambry laying the blame on them after the state had to return an RM33mil allocation to the Federal Government due to strong objections to the plans.
Foo said he objected to the plan then because he did not find it practical to tear down the current markets and rebuild a new ones that have two or three storeys.
“A lot of the traders and customers here are old, it is not convenient for them to climb stairs.
“But I think if they were to renovate the market by doing it in phases, it would be better because at least they can improve the aesthetics of the markets.
“Having to close and move my business away for a few months is better than closing my business for one to two years,” he said.
Similarly, pau and dumpling trader Loh Sow Kwan, 68, who has been selling at the Pasir Pinji market since the 1970s, said she too did not agree with the plan to rebuild the market.
“To rebuild this place wouldn’t take just a few months. It would take one to two years. What about our rice bowls? Where are we supposed to go if the market here is closed?
“Other long-time and old traders like me find the multi-storey plan to be a huge hassle too. We have knee problems and having to move up and down a building every day is not convenient for us,” she said.
Loh said renovating the market would suffice, as some of the roof and floor tiles are broken and need repairing.
“The most important thing is the cleanliness, because I hardly see council workers cleaning the market as thoroughly as they did before.
“They used to clean once a week, but now, I don’t think the place has been properly cleaned for half a year,” she said.
Butcher Cheong Wai Leong, 51, also agrees that a renovation plan is a better idea.
“There are lot of things they can still fix around here, like the dirty and broken floors.
“I see the council workers around, but for some reason, they don’t come into the meat section here in the market to clean up anymore that’s why the place is very dirty,” he said.
At the Gunung Rapat market, vegetable trader Loh Yet Keow, 59, said she objected to the rebuilding plan because, other than seeing the double-storey building plan as a bad idea, she was unhappy after learning it would have to reduced the width of her stall by about 15cm.
“Right now, our stall is already considered small. If the new market means we would have smaller stalls, I don’t want it.
“There wouldn’t be enough place to lay out all my vegetables to sell,” she said.
Loh said renovations to the current market would be more practical, such as increasing ventilation in the market.
“It is very hot and humid here, and there are so many traders and people here too.
“If they can fix the roof, it would be fine as well because there are holes in the roof. Water leaks every time it rains,” she said.
Noodle trader Ng Kooi Hua, 67, said other than objecting to the smaller stall sizes and double-storey building plan back then, she learnt that they wanted to increase the number of traders as well.
“Right now, business is already so bad for many of us. If they want to increase the number of stalls inside the market, it would make it harder for us to earn a living,” she said.
Like the other traders, Ng said she would not be opposed to a renovation plan.
“It would be nice if they can work on a better ventilation system here. It’s really hot,” she said.
Fish trader Lee Kui Fong, 69, said he was unhappy with the idea to bring in more traders into the market if the government rebuilt it.
“We barely have enough customers right now. Those who buy from us are buying less too.
“I just think it’s a bad idea because if more stalls were to come in, it would be even harder to do business than it is right now,” he said.
Another fish trader, Zairah Alang Idin, 70, said she totally does not want any changes to be made to the market as it would affect her livelihood.
“Right now I’m fine with how the market is.
“The only thing I’m not happy about is how business is really bad now because there’s already too many traders here, including those who are setting up their stalls outside the market,” she said.