TAKE a stroll along Karpal Singh Drive, Penang and you may find that you want to stay here a little longer than intended.
Making the area better since early this year is a little stretch along the promenade that has been designated for visitors to skate and ride toy cars.
Activities which were once “illegally” operated, such as skating, are now permitted on the 1km-long stretch.
The area throbs with vibrancy as colourful roller skates, Ninebot scooters and other ride-on toys are at hand for the public to rent for leisure or a little workout.
Full-time operator Mohd Nasrudin Khan Omar Khan, 34, said seven operators, including himself, had been given permits by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) to run the businesses on this stretch.
He explained that the special permit was issued to Kelab Rekreasi Kasut Roda Pulau Pinang, and the operators were members under the club.
“This is our first year operating with the permits.
“We were ‘illegal’ before this but now, our businesses are regulated and we are permitted to run them here,” he said at the promenade.
Skate rental operators in Karpal Singh Drive had, in April 2016, urged the authorities not to ban them.
It was also reported in The Star that MBPP had taken action against illegal skate rental operators.
Mohd Nasrudin, who is club secretary, said they received the permit early this year.
“The permit allows us to operate only game activities such as roller skating, toy cars, scooters, bubbles and sand art.
“We are not allowed to sell items like clothes or food,” he said.
Mohd Nasrudin said before this, they had operated without permits since 2015 and had to face raids by enforcement officers three to four times a month.
“Our items would be confiscated every time. I am glad this is over and we can operate legally now.
“Things are much better now. It’s better that these activities are regulated by the authorities.
“Now, we don’t have to run and customers can play at ease and safely,” he said, adding that they were also grateful to MBPP for issuing the permit.
Mohd Nasrudin said they operated from 6pm to 3am daily, and that the area was crowded on Fridays and weekends.
He claimed that their rental rates were the cheapest in Malaysia.
“For the roller skates, we charge only RM10 with no time limit,” he said.
Mohd Nasrudin said he started skating at the promenade as a hobby.
“People started approaching me to ask where I got my skates from. From there, I had the idea of starting this business.
“My friends and I started with renting out roller skates and slowly, we diversified into other types of toys such as Ninebot scooters and toy vehicles for children as there was a growing demand.
“This is a business that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Skating, for example, is now a trend all over the country,” he added.
Another operator, Faris Loh, 34, said the flurry of activities which attracted both adults and children had contributed to the vibrancy of the area.
“It’s very laujuak (upbeat) here now.
“I have more toys coming in later,” he said, adding that he currently had 16 toy cars for children and 14 adult and children scooters.
Four-year-old Teo Xin Pei was among those spotted manoeuvring a toy car here under the watchful eyes of her mother, housewife Lum Wen Chiat, 33.
“We come here once a week because she (Teo) really enjoys it here.
“My daughter is very happy whenever she gets to play any of the activities here, be it riding the toy car or blowing bubbles.
“This is a good way for me to spend time and bond with my daughter too,” said Lum.
She also lauded the move to have a designated area for recreational activities.
“With this done legally, it provides a safe and comfortable environment for children and adults to play.
“I’m really happy there’s a place like this for people to enjoy.”
Meanwhile, Mohd Andy Hakimi Abdullah, 10, was seen riding on the Ninebot scooter.
“This is my first time here and I am very excited, of course.
“My mum brought me here as a gift for my birthday,” he said.