However, only 300 were given lots in the new building out of 400-odd traders.
StarMetro visited the new market and found only 70% of traders had moved in while others were undecided whether to set up shop.
There are more than 170 lots at the ground floor for dry food and perishable items such as vegetables, meat and seafood at the new facility in Jalan 9, Selayang Baru. There is also a separate area for non-halal products.
“My new lot is much smaller and it is far away from other traders,” said Lee Kim Chor, 56, who sells dry food.
Lee, whose lot is in the non-halal area, said he used to get customers of all races but since moving to the new space, he has lost some of them.
“The only non-halal item at my stall is pork balls.
“How are my customers going to find me here, especially those who don’t eat pork?” he asked, adding that the lot was three times smaller than his stall at the old market, Pasar Warisan Selayang Baru.
Another trader, Muhammad Sajad Hussain Basir, said the new building was not safe with faulty electrical wiring and drainage problems which have yet to be fixed.
“The lifts are also not working.We have no choice. If we decline a lot here, we will have to find a new trading spot elsewhere,” he said.
Traders said the building was built more than a decade ago but it was left empty, resulting in the lifts and electrical wiring being vandalised over the years.
The traders said they did not know why the building was left empty for so long and why its opening was delayed by Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).
“The building was in a neglected state with overgrown grass all over the place.
“A few months ago, we received a letter informing us that we were to move to the building.
“We were shocked to learn that MPS wanted us to move there when the building is not in good condition,” said Salamiah Din who felt the local council should not have rushed traders to the new building without ensuring it was ready.
A majority of traders interviewed also want MPS to build a proper rubbish disposal area and ensure no illegal traders are allowed to do business outside the building.
More traders than lots
Not all the traders were offeredplaces. Food operator Koh Gaik Lan has decided to call it quits after failing to get a lot at the building.
The 72-year-old said she, together with some other stall operators, were not given lots at the new market.
“I feel sad because I have to close my stall after operating for close to 20 years but we have no choice but to retire,” said Koh who runs the business with her husband.
She said MPS offered them a lot at a different housing area but they declined as it was too far and most of their regular customers would not have gone there.
Not all traders are against the move — some see it as an opportunity to trade in a more comfortable place, giving them the chance to attract younger shoppers.
Vegetable seller Jamiah Aton said the new premises had proper roofing and electricity.
“We have been trading at the open market for more than 40 years. I feel it is time we moved to a better spot,” she said.
Jamiah agreed that her lot was smaller but said she would work with the space given.
“The only downside to the move is that I would not be trading next to other vegetable sellers,” said the 63-year-old from Sungai Buloh who is now located among those selling fish and meat.
During the drawing of lots, she said MPS did not separate the wet and dry food sellers.
“My customers may not be able to find me as my stall is next to a fishmonger. It is going to be confusing for those looking for their regular traders,” she said, adding that MPS should have been -more organised in the relocation.
On the first floor are lots for businesses selling clothes, household items, shoes as well as food stalls.
“It is good here as we have a roof and we can run our business even on rainy days,” said T-shirt seller Kurnia Budi Mohamad Saat.
He hoped the group of dissatisfied traders who have yet to move in, would eventually occupy their lots.
“They are worried that no one will come but if the traders don’t open their stalls, how will customers appear?” he asked.
Flexible trading hours
Kurnia Budi said MPS was flexible about their trading hours.
He said previously traders operated until noon but at the new building, they could continue selling their wares until evening.
Poultry seller Yap Chow Wen said he was positive that the move would benefit everyone.
“At the old market, we had to put up large umbrellas but here we have a roof and customers can shop with ease,” he said, adding that most old-timers had been given lots at the new place.
Both floors have restroom facilities but repair works were still ongoing while the vandalised lifts have yet to be fixed.
A representative from the developer, who was monitoring the repair works, said the lifts were in working order when the building was initially completed.
“It was abandoned for a long time and it may take some time before we can fix it as it will be very costly,” he said.
The new market’s 540 parking bays, located on four floors, will be operated by MPS.
“For the first three months, visitors do not have to pay parking fees while traders are exempted from paying rent,” said the representative who declined to be named.
The old market site, also on Jalan 9, has been boarded up. Almost all the stall operators have moved out except for a handful of traders who were operating nearby.
Last week, several traders handed a memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) office in Kuala Lumpur, containing a list of demands which they want the developer and authorities to address.
Among the demands were alternative trading sites for those who were unable to get lots at the new market as well as compensation for traders whose businesses were disrupted due to the relocation process.
The old market was located on a 9.8ha plot and had a futsal court, food court and had an area for stalls.
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