A NEW batch of hawkers have started operating illegal roadside stalls at Bukit Ampang in Ampang, Selangor barely three months after the earlier operators were relocated.
The stalls that operate only at night, are located at the top of a steep slope known for its panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur city centre.
Customers come in droves parking their vehicles along Jalan Hulu Langat, oblivious to the dangers of being knocked into by cars, buses and lorries that ply the route.
To them eating a meal with a view just makes the food taste that much better - to the extent that personal safety often takes a back seat.
Just as the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) were finally able to clear the area, they will now have to figure out a way to once again deal with the illegal hawkers who are putting their lives and those of their customers at risk.
MPAJ president Datuk Abdul Hamid Hussain said the hawkers continued to break the law because demand by customers to dine at the risky area was high.
Closure of the popular Ampang Look Out Point (ALOP), located about 200m from the stalls, in 2012 resulted in the emergence of roadside stalls lining the junction of Jalan Hulu Langat and Persiaran Saujana.
As such, the hawker site has now become the new lookout point.
Diners can be seen occupying plastic chairs and tables sitting on boards that doubled up as drain covers.
The hawkers even set up tables and chairs at the slope across the road. Currently, there are 16 stalls operating every night.
Good businessA trader, who declined to be named, said no other place could draw that many customers apart from the lookout point.
“We don’t even have to advertise as people know about the stalls through word of mouth.
“We are only providing a service as customers want to have a bite while enjoying the view, ” he said, adding that he served more than 100 customers each night.
He added that most people did not mind the lack of facilities, such as toilets or proper carparks, as they were only there for a short period of time.
Another trader said the area should be developed into a tourist spot.
“The previous lookout point was very popular, so a similar concept could be done here.
“It can be made safer by strengthening the slope and setting up proper parking facilities further down the road, ” he said.
Customers too seem to pay little mind to the dangers of dining there as they take in the view and cheap hawker food.
“To get this view, we would have to pay exorbitant prices at hotels or rooftop restaurants.
“Here, we literally dine under the stars and we don’t have to pay steep prices, ” said regular customer Mohd Anuar Mohd Ishak said.
On the dangers of dining at the particular location, he said most drivers were cautious driving in the area.
“Those who use this road know that they would need to slow down as it is narrow.
“Perhaps MPAJ or the stall operators could hire Rela members to direct traffic and parking to limit the congestion, ” he said.
In 2018, MPAJ went on a blitz in an attempt to relocate the hawkers including continued enforcement and legal action.
MPAJ had even taken eight of the hawkers to court for failing to adhere to compound notices issued, but they still refused to vacate.
The hawkers were issued notices under the MPAJ Hawker Bylaw 2007 for operating without a licence and Section 46 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 for obstruction.
While the first batch of hawkers eventually moved out, they were quickly replaced by new traders as there was demand by customers.
StarMetro reported that MPAJ joined forces with the police to slap motorist with summonses for parking illegally by the roadside.
Weekends and public holidays are the busiest time as the stalls are set up as early as 6pm and continue operating until the wee hours of the morning.
Abdul Hamid said they would continue to take action against the hawkers.
“Enforcement personnel are stationed there every day from 5pm to 10pm. “Unfortunately, the hawkers will immediately set up stall once the officers leave, ” he said.
In the past, MPAJ has confiscated items at the stalls that were left overnight, but the move did little to deter the hawkers.
“We are still firm that no businesses will be allowed to operate here and will continue to work with the police to carry out enforcement.
“But, if the public continues to patronise these stalls, they will continue to operate, ” said Abdul Hamid, adding that they were lucky there had been no major untoward incidents so far.
MPAJ councillor Salmah Ismail, who is in charge of the particular zone, advised visitors to be wary of visiting the stalls.
“There is no clean water supply and some of the hawkers also store dishes at the site overnight, which is unhygienic, ” she said.