Sabah market in the doldrums

Only three stalls are still open at the Pasar Muafakat Sabah in Bandar Seri Alam.

JOHOR BARU: Just over a year after it was set up by the previous state government, Pasar Muafakat Sabah in Bandar Seri Alam has turned into a ‘ghost market’.

Lack of promotion by the authorities has resulted in many traders closing shop at the market which was established to help the low-income Sabahan community families living here.

The main idea back then was to give the B40 community a chance to venture into business so that they can fend for themselves and elevate their quality of life.

The RM2.1mil market in Jalan Suria 66, which houses 40 stalls selling food, dry foods, handicraft and apparel from Sabah, opened to much fanfare in March last year.

However, the only market in the state that was specifically built for Sabahans is now a pale shadow of itself, with empty shop lots and deserted parking bays.

One of the three traders left at the market, Yusop Abdua, 40, pointed to the lack of promotion and the location of the market which he said had led to its present sorry state.“The physical building itself is hidden from the main road in Bandar Seri Alam, so people have to go off the main road to enter a secluded area.

“But even when they do, many of the shops here have closed down so people are somewhat discouraged to come and visit again,” he told StarMetro.

Yusop said the condition of the market now was a far cry from the bustling atmosphere that greeted visitors in the early months of the market’s opening.

“The committee here had planned to work with Tourism Johor to make this a one-stop centre for tourists to enjoy Sabahan cultural performances, foods, and handicrafts.

“But the plan was scrapped and since then, everything has been going downhill,” said Yusop.

Another trader, Anang Bawsing, 60, said the lack of customer traffic meant some traders had decided to throw in the towel as the market was no longer worth the money to invest in.

“Some people left their jobs to start their business here but the lack of customers, aside from the daily costs plus the monthly rent of RM300 has forced them to close shop.

“Some traders live nearby but others have to travel here every day and they are the ones who need the most help,” she said, adding that shops that sold crafts were most affected.

Anang said she hoped the current government could do something to help promote the location as one of the state’s tourists attraction for the coming Visit Johor Year 2020.

When contacted, Permas assemblyman Datuk Seri Che Zakaria Mohd Salleh said that he would meet up with Pasir Gudang Municipal Council (MPPG) president Zainor Adani to discuss ways to help the traders in the area.

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