Hiccup in SOP compliance


Market-goers patronising a vegetable stall in the Balik Pulau market in Penang. There are 200 stalls in the market while the food court has 150 hawker stalls. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

A SHORTAGE of helping hands and indifference among hawkers in the Balik Pulau public market in Penang have hampered compliance of Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillor Edward Tan said when the movement control order (MCO) began in March, the SOP compliance was checked by council staff, police and Rela.

“However, during the recovery MCO, we hired Rela staff and collected between RM1 and RM3 from the hawkers daily to pay the workers, but the hawkers were uncooperative and some refused to pay.

“I personally helped set up the entire checking gate at each of the entrances to ensure everyone who comes in is scanned and the temperature taken.

“But this was disrupted when some hawkers were uncooperative and refused to give the agreed sum. So now, during the conditional MCO, we used the staff from the Balik Pulau Market Hawkers Association to check on SOP compliance.

“This too did not run smoothly as the staff member is there only on an ad hoc basis and we have to scramble to find someone to ensure that the SOP is adhered to, ” he said.

Tan said the hawkers should contribute as they are doing business and already have their monthly rentals waived for four months during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A market-goer getting her temperature scanned at the entrance to the Balik Pulau market.A market-goer getting her temperature scanned at the entrance to the Balik Pulau market.

“Some council department staff had a meeting recently with the hawkers.

“They were told that there will be no compromise on the SOP compliance and they will have to contribute a small amount to hire Rela staff.

“The Rela staff will be manning the entrances to the market and food court from this week and I hope everything runs smoothly.”

Chicken seller Shahril Marmokhan Mohamad, 42, said the hawkers are willing to give the contribution but the SOP must be maintained.

“There should be a letter from the MBPP stating that they will be hiring Rela staff so as to make the request for the contribution official.

“We do not have any letter to this effect and neither did we receive any receipts for our payments, ” he said.

Tan said he would check if the council was able to issue temporary receipts for the payment collected.

The public market has about 200 stalls while the food court has 150 hawker stalls.

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