Learning from market closure

A market-goer getting her body temperature scanned the wrong way using her hand as others queue up under the supervision of personnel on duty at the MBSP market complex beside the main Apollo market. - Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

A SUNDAY morning frenzy at the Apollo daily wet market in Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth, led to a breach of standard operating procedure (SOP) and subsequent closure of a major portion of the market by the authorities.

Traders at the height of their business were shocked when enforcers from the Health Department turned up to perform an inspection before issuing a notice for a seven-day closure.

Among them was fishmonger Jimmy Tan, 33, who has been trading at the market for over 10 years.

“The crowd on Sunday was extraordinary and the market was full.

“It was unlike any other Sundays in the past, ” he recalled.

Another food trader who declined to be named said she thought everything was going well until someone broke the news to her about the closure.

“Customers were queuing in front of my stall and we were selling as usual.

“The stream of customers was constant that day and we thought it was good for a weekend.

“As such, we did not expect a sudden closure, ” she said.

The market association chairman Ong Teng Hooi said the market would improve its SOP compliance in order to reopen as the livelihood of some 70 traders depended on it.

“We need to tighten SOP practices such as limiting the crowd and ensuring a better queuing system outside and inside.

Stalls under the canopy in Apollo market closed since Sunday.Stalls under the canopy in Apollo market closed since Sunday.

“There was an average of 13 personnel manning four entrances to the area but Sunday’s crowd was just too heavy to handle.

“There were stubborn customers who did not want to obey rules and would quarrel with personnel on duty, ” he said.

Ong said those badly affected by the closure were those selling food, but only a few of them.

“They have stocked up on fresh supplies for the next day.

“However, only a few of them trade in stalls while the rest operate from vehicles and have since moved elsewhere.

“Most of other fresh produce traders were able to put their supply on hold, ” he said.

A statement by Seberang Prai City Council (MBSP) clarified that only the daily market section under the canopy was closed

down but the two rows of market complex under the council’s jurisdiction remain open.

MBSP mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud said following an emergency meeting over the closure, it was decided that the market organiser must strictly regulate crowd control.

“We advise that only one entry and one exit are permitted.

“All visitors need to register at the entrance and there must be sufficient personnel to man the entrances.

“Only between three and five visitors are allowed at each stall while those below the age of 12 are discouraged from going, ” he said.

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