Food court turned drug haunt

Abdul Halim showing the mess left by the vandals at the food court in Pantai Bersih, Butterworth. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PLASTIC bags and bottles of ketum juice left behind by addicts are a common sight at Pantai Bersih, Butterworth on mainland Penang.

Every day, Seberang Prai City Council (MBSP) cleaners have to tackle this menace.

A check behind the Taman Tun Dr Awang food complex by the beach showed the bottles scattered about. They are believed to be used by the addicts to mix ketum juice before consumption.

“We pick up litter and clean the place daily but the plastic bags and bottles of ketum juice keep coming back, ” said a council cleaner who declined to be named.

“Many of the bags are littered along the rocky embankment and we have to use long trash pickers to reach them.

“I have to deal with 50 such plastic bags with remains of ketum juice daily.”

A council cleaner picking up plastic bags still filled with a bit of ketum juice.A council cleaner picking up plastic bags still filled with a bit of ketum juice.

Cleaner Zahari Othman said litterbugs still throw their rubbish around the food court although there are dustbins in the complex area.

“The dustbins are never full but garbage is everywhere on the ground.

“Time spent to sweep up the garbage could be used for better purposes.

“Sometimes while at work, we encounter the youths who litter the place but we dare not warn them as they come in groups, ” said Zahari.

Traders at the complex are also fuming mad due to the littering and vandalism.

Stall owner Abdul Halim Zainol, 58, said many traders left the complex due to constant vandalism and complaints from customers of poor hygiene conditions there.

“We have installed lights to keep the place bright at night but all of them were vandalised.

Zahari sweeping the compound at the food court in Pantai Bersih.Zahari sweeping the compound at the food court in Pantai Bersih.

“In the mornings, we often find urine, vomit and food waste dumped all over the dining area.

“The addicts hang around here because it is secluded from the public eye, ” he said.

Abdul Halim said more than half of the stalls at the food court were vacant and those hawkers still operating there have a tough time maintaining the place.

“We share the responsibility to clean the dining area and as there are fewer of us now, we each have a bigger area to clean.

“I hope that MBSP which owns the complex will beef up measures and get more traders to come in, ” he added.

Checks found that only 11 out of the 28 stall lots at the complex were operating.

While cleaners and hawkers were busy upkeeping the place, visitors could be seen enjoying the sea breeze.

There is also a small playground in the food court area.

Mitragynine which is the main active ingredient in ketum drink is a psychotropic substance controlled under the law.

Misusing ketum leaves is an offence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

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