Bazaar good for business

The Little India Deepavali bazaar located along Jalan Ungku Puan, Johor Baru last year attracted thousands of shoppers. — Filepic

JOHOR BARU: Indian business associations are hoping that the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) will allow them to have Deepavali bazaars this year, despite the ongoing recovery movement control order (MCO).

The associations are willing to station People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel at the bazaars to ensure all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are adhered to, including taking the temperatures of those coming to the bazaars and also practising physical distancing.

Johor Indian Petty Traders and Small Businesses Association president D. Ravindran said that they were hoping to have at least 30 stalls in Tampoi during Deepavali.

“We sent the letter a month ago to the council and hope to get some good news from them so that we can put up the tents next month,” he said, adding that last year they also set up 30 stalls in the same place.

Deepavali falls on Nov 14 this year.

Ravindran said the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the Indian businessmen badly and they hoped that such bazaars would help bring in the local customers looking for good bargains during Deepavali.

“Anyway this year due to the pandemic, we are only charging minimal fees to encourage our members to do business,” he said when contacted.

On the recent call by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad for all local councils to find ways to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, he said that MBJB should appoint Indian councillors to help address the issue.

“Many people have lost their jobs and should be encouraged to go into business to earn a living,” he said, adding that a recent seminar on food trucks organised by the association received a huge response.

Meanwhile, Johor Indian Business Association chairman P. Sivakumar said that they too were hoping to get approval from MBJB to have 34 stalls in Johor Baru’s downtown area.

“Businesses in the town area have been badly affected since the border with Singapore was partially closed since March.

“These bazaars will be a good avenue for traders to sell their existing stock while customers will be able to get good bargains,” he said, adding that if Pasar Karat in the town area was allowed to resume, he did not see any problem with MBJB allowing the bazaars.

“However we will ensure all the SOPs are adhered to and will inform our members to take all the necessary precautions to ensure their safety as well as that of their customers,” he added.

Sivakumar added that such bazaars were also good to help spruce up the “dull” atmosphere around town as many businesses were affected up to 60% due to the absence of Singaporean visitors.

He added that each year, more than 150 stalls were allocated for the various business groups in the city.

“We also hope the council will reduce the charges imposed so that we too can keep our costs low,” Sivakumar said, adding that he also supported Hasni’s call to councils to help traders instead of merely concentrating on enforcement activities.

Hasni during his recent message to local councils said that in the current economic climate, local councils should be innovative and find new ways to help people start up or continue existing business activities.

When contacted, MBJB mayor Datuk Adib Azhari Daud said that the council was ready to receive and consider all applications for the Deepavali bazaars and give the necessary approvals.

“However there will be additional and strict conditions imposed as the country is still in the recovery period of the MCO until Dec 31,” he said, adding that all applications would be presented to the relevant licensing committee for consideration.

Adib said in the past MBJB had approved bazaars at five locations in the city including near the Arulnigurajamariamman temple, Jalan Ungku Puan and Taman Tampoi Indah.

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