Can’t wait for EMCO to be lifted

Lifeline provided: A resident (right) collecting food items from a delivery worker outside a block of flats near Sri Aman market complex in Persiaran Paya Terubong, Penang. The area is placed under lockdown for two weeks till Sunday due to a high number of positive Covid-19 cases. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

LIVING right next to Sri Aman market complex had been a boon for food stall operators who simply walked over to their businesses there daily but it is a different story now.

Uncoiled rolls of razor-sharp barbed wire now separate economy rice stall operator Salleh Ibrahim, 69, from his stall at the market complex in Paya Terubong, Penang.

His home is across the street from his stall which is within the enhanced movement control order (MCO) area in Paya Terubong.

“I have had the stall for over eight years and live right next door.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, things have been out of sorts and it is a new experience but making ends meet is difficult.

“I live here with my wife and I run the stall right next to the market.

“Since they placed the area under an enhanced MCO, I have to wait it out to operate my stall.

“At my age, that is the only thing I know how to do.

“For now, I have to dip into my savings until they lift the enhanced MCO, ” he said.

Salleh said he and his wife do feel safe, considering that the cases are contained within the area that has been cordoned off but admits to feeling the pinch.

Residents spending time at the corridor of their flats located just outside the enhanced MCO area in Persiaran Paya Terubong, Penang.Residents spending time at the corridor of their flats located just outside the enhanced MCO area in Persiaran Paya Terubong, Penang.

Jufri Sairi, 54, who also operates a food stall in the market, said he shared the same fate as Salleh.

“This is my only means of income and I have two young children but I do not want to operate an illegal stall.

“My regular customers are usually factory workers who all live inside the enhanced MCO area.

“For now, I just sit at home with my sons and spend the bare minimum.

“I do hope the enhanced MCO will be lifted on Sunday as I would like to resume my business, ” he said.

Meh Jah Mamat, 67, who lives in the same flat across the street from the enhance MCO area, said she missed going for her daily walks around the area and having breakfast in the market.

“My children work and I usually go for a morning walk and have nasi lemak or some kuih at the market before returning home.

“Now, I have to cook every day or wait for my children to buy food.

“I have resorted to walking around my flat compound to get some exercise. I miss my old routine.

“I understand the need as it is a virus and is dangerous but to us, it is unheard of and difficult to deal with, ” she said.

Factory worker Mohd Ramdhan Bakar, 44, said he was glad they placed the barbed wire around the area as usually, there would be people walking around especially since the market is next to their compound.

“I know it is difficult for many as they work in the market or do their grocery shopping next door but I would rather drive out and get what I need as long as I am safe.

“I now limit my movements and usually head straight back home after work.

“If I need groceries, I go to a supermarket and stock up, ” he said.

On Dec 6, the conditional MCO was lifted in Penang except for sub-districts (Mukim) 12 and 13, which include Bayan Lepas, Relau, Batu Maung, Paya Terubong, and Ayer Itam, which will remain under the conditional MCO until Dec 20.

Two localities – flats in Paya Terubong and Desa Bistari Apartments in Batu Uban, where many foreign workers live – have been placed under targeted enhanced MCO until Sunday.

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