A STONE’S throw from the majestic pink mosque, the Selera Putra food court in Putrajaya sees a steady stream of tourists seeking respite from the blazing sun and to grab a bite to eat.
But most are shocked at the hot, humid and poorly ventilated facility that greets them, no thanks to the non-functioning air-conditioners.
With an average of 30 tour buses visiting the nearby Putra Mosque, the food court sees about 2,000 visitors daily.
Traders are certainly enjoying brisk business, but visitors have to make do with stand fans and air coolers that do little to alleviate the heat and humidity in the food court.
A tour guide, who declined to be named, said every tour group he brought to Selera Putra would complain about the lack of air-conditioning.
“This is the most convenient place to bring tourists for lunch before we drive back to Kuala Lumpur.
“It can also accommodate a large number of visitors, unlike other restaurants and food courts.
“Because of the poor conditions, many diners will leave the place quickly.
“It is a shame because the food here is good,” he said.
The 18-year-old food court in Precinct 1 is managed and maintained by Putrajaya Corporation (PPj). There are currently 13 stalls operating there.
A worker at an ice cream stall, Wan Idah Mastura, 34, said she suffered from heat exhaustion when she first started working at the food court about six years ago.
“We are on our feet for 10 to 12 hours a day and constantly busy with customers, with little time to rest so it is easy to get overheated.
“Because the food court is an enclosed space, there is little ventilation and hot air is trapped in the building,” she said.
Wan Idah added that they had complained to PPj several times about the non-functioning air conditioners but were told that repairs had to be put off as it would cost a lot.
Another stall operator said it was important that the place be upgraded as the reputation of the country was at stake because Putrajaya is Malaysia’s administrative capital.
“Customers do not feel comfortable eating here as the place is smelly and hot; many would rather go elsewhere.
“If there are too many complaints, the tour groups may be forced to take their customers elsewhere and this will affect us,” she said, adding that 90% of her business was from tourists.
The air-conditioning is not the only problem. The infrastructure is also worn out.
Many of the facilities, including the fans and lighting, need to be cleaned and fixed.
The handrails on the escalators are in bad shape too while the outdoor tables and chairs are faded.
Some visitors also complained that the parking facilities were too far away and motorists would park illegally near the food court.
Another tour guide said the tables need to be cleared of dirty dishes and cleaned more frequently.
“We understand that there is a high turnover of customers here, especially during lunch time but leaving dirty plates on the tables for prolonged period gives a bad impression.
“It also makes it difficult for incoming diners to find a table to sit at,” he said.
When contacted, a PPj spokesman said the air-conditioning at the food court required a major overhaul and would cost an estimated RM1.4mil.
“The air-conditioning is almost as old as the building. It needs to be replaced.
“We do have plans to change it but we have budget constraints,” he said.
The spokesman also disclosed plans to upgrade Selera Putra as well the Souq at Dataran Putra.
“We are hoping to upgrade the two facilities, including the air-conditioning, concurrently,” he said, adding that PPj had recently completed upgrading works at the Precinct 16 food court.
The spokesman said that while there were no plans to replace the other infrastructure, PPj would ensure that everything was clean and in working condition.
On the parking issue, he said the public could park their vehicles at the outer ring of Dataran Putra on condition that their vehicles were not at the buses’ pick-up and drop-off zones.
“Motorists can also park at the public carpark at B13 and Laman Putra which although slightly further, are still within walking distance of the food court,” he said.