Traders hope Kepong open-air market can reopen soon

  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Yap (left) has been able to sell produce by renting a space nearby but at a much higher cost compared to the open-air market. — Photos: SAMUEL ONG/The Star

OPEN-AIR wet market traders in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, are appealing to the government to allow them to resume operations as most are struggling to make ends meet after more than two months under the movement control order (MCO).

Under the MCO, open-air markets are prohibited from operating and traders fear that they may have to remain closed if the MCO is extended after June 9.

Kepong Community Centre head Yee Poh Ping said while a handful of the 700 traders in Kepong Baru, Jinjang Utara and Jinjang Selatan had been able to adapt to the new normal, the majority of traders had suffered a severe loss of income.

“Some have been able to move part of their business online while others have resorted to renting shoplots near the wet market so they can continue selling their produce.

“But the majority of them are going through a crisis, as they don’t have the money to fork out between RM4,000 and RM6,000 a month to rent a shoplot,” he said during a site visit to the Kepong Baru wet market yesterday.

Yee said the RM500 one-off aid from the government was simply not enough to cushion the impact of not being able to do business during the MCO.

A trader who only wanted to be identified as Yap, said his income had dropped by at least 80% since the MCO started and he was only able to resume selling vegetables at a nearby building 11 days ago.

Yap, who had been a trader for over 30 years, said he tried selling produce online but he was struggling to earn the same amount as before.

“Now I have to spend more than RM50 per day to rent space and pay for cleaning services at this new location compared to the RM48 for a whole year plus a few ringgit daily for rubbish collection fees outside,” he said, referring to his allocated space at the wet market barely 100m away.

Yee pointed out that Kepong as a suburb had not recorded any cases of Covid-19 and residents were disciplined when it came to adhering to the Health Ministry’s standard operating procedure.

“The earlier cases were combined with Batu and Segambut, but there were none from Kepong,” he explained, distinguishing Kepong as a township from the health district, which included all three areas.

“Because of the number of daily complaints I have been getting, I have appealed to Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa on their behalf and he has agreed to visit the site.”

Yee said there should be a discussion between stakeholders, ministry and National Security Council to come up with a plan to allow traders to resume business.

“We have two options we wish to propose, with the first being a complete lifting of the ban on open-air markets and the other being a partial lifting with stalls and traders opening on alternate days,” he said.

“If this can be implemented with proper measures, it will at least give the traders an opportunity to earn some income and provide for their families.”

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