PASAR Borong Kuala Lumpur in Selayang was thrust into the spotlight when Selayang Baru was placed under the enhanced movement control order from April 20 to May 3.
The wholesale market’s proximity to the lockdown area became of interest due to the presence of foreign workers employed there.
The enhanced MCO affected eight parcels, mostly residential properties in Selayang Baru, where these workers lived.
Although the market was allowed to operate, tighter standard operating procedures were implemented to keep traders and visitors safe.
People were required to produce proof that they had tested negative for Covid-19 before entering the pasar borong, the city’s main wholesale market.
Routine sanitisation was carried out to ensure visitors were safe at the premises.
At one point, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and Federal Territories Ministry barred foreigners and refugees from entering the market.
DBKL’s by-laws were strictly enforced and traders were kept from hiring illegal foreign workers.
Such measures were necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the surrounding community as many foreign workers lived in cramped conditions.
In May, 86 Covid-19 cases were reported in areas surrounding the market.
Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said there were over 10,000 foreign workers living in Selayang, many of whom worked at the market.
The lockdown led to two things — a facelift to reorganise the market and a crackdown on illegal foreigners.
Firstly, DBKL has plans to upgrade the facilities at Pasar Borong Kuala Lumpur while building a new wholesale market.
The new building is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Annuar said the new market would rely on mechanisation and focus less on manual labour.
The minister had said that the market would feature green technology cleaning systems and efficient cold rooms as well as spacious trading areas for more goods other than fruits, vegetables and fish.
The transformation project is estimated to cost between RM200mil and RM300mil.
Among efforts to uplift the market’s image was the introduction of colour-coded uniforms for workers.
The move was aimed at standardising workers’ attire and to ensure orderliness in the market.
From July 10, workers reported to work in uniforms to differentiate them based on their area of trade.
DBKL is also in the midst of acquiring a two-storey building next to the wholesale market to be used as a workers’ hostel.
The second resultant effort of the MCO was a blitz on illegal foreign workers in Kuala Lumpur.
Among the steps was identifying 20 businesses where foreigners were barred from operating.
On July 20, DBKL issued guidelines with regard to premises and business licence under the Licensing of Trades, Businesses and Industries (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-laws 2016 (UUK20) and Licensing of Hawkers and Food Placement (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-laws 2016 (UUK22).
The by-law prohibits foreign nationals from applying for a licence to open hypermarkets, sundry shops, cybercafes, 24-hour convenience stores, spas, petrol stations, car workshops, jewellery shops and laundry services, among the businesses.
The then Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan said the ban also extended to couples where one spouse was a foreigner.
Under UUK22, local traders are not allowed to employ foreigners as helpers, including couples where one partner is a foreigner.
Hawkers and traders at markets, food courts and roadside stalls fall under UUK22.
Under UUK20, a foreigner who is registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) can run other businesses and is allowed to hire foreign staff holding a valid permit from the Immigration Department.