JOHOR BARU: The 63rd National Day celebration is a meaningful one for Desa Tebrau Foodtruck Entrepreneur Association.
The group has managed to retain all its members despite the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on their businesses.
Its chairman Mohd Redzuan Shah Ahmad said this was also the first year after being set up three years ago that all 26 entrepreneurs and business owners had gathered in one place.
“We usually go our separate ways during Merdeka celebrations, taking up invitations from private and government sectors to serve food at their events.
“But this time around, we managed to have our first Merdeka celebration together.
“Perhaps this is the silver lining of the pandemic that affected many businesses since the movement control order (MCO) was imposed in March,” said Mohd Redzuan, 36, at the Desa Tebrau Foodtruck Entrepreneur Association Merdeka celebration at Jalan Harmonium 24 here.
He said the pandemic failed to dampen their patriotic spirit.
“We celebrated the occasion by strictly adhering to the standard operation procedures (SOP) put in place by the government.
“All those trading here have to wear a face mask, maintain physical distance and sanitise their hands regularly.
“We received support from the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) in maintaining the cleanliness of the area,” he said.
“We are offering options to the community to eat outside because we are surrounded by big malls and food chains.
“So our presence here compliments what has been established by the private sector,” he added.
Food truck business owner Gusman Mohamad, 42, said this year’s Merdeka celebration would have been sweeter if the government had announced a liberation stimulus package for small and medium enterprises, to convert from operating food stalls to food truck business.
“The government could grant a loan to those who are interested in doing food truck business for them to get equipment and other needed items.
“Once the business is stable, the operator can pay back.
“A small scale business would require at least RM30,000 to start, said Gusman.
He said this incentive would also help spur the local economy.
Another business owner, Azlan Ahmad, 45, said entrepreneurs play an important role not only in taking care of the business but in ensuring visitors followed the SOP.
“Right now we are the frontliners and must give priority to safety and preventing the risk of Covid-19 infections.
“The MCO has taken a huge toll on some of us and forced us to transform our business and think out-of-the-box in order to survive.
“With the extension of the recovery MCO until December this year, we hope that 2021 will bring positive changes,” said Gusman.