Petty traders seek ways to navigate the pandemic

Johor Indian Petty Trade and Small Business Association is helping some 20 of its members start a food truck business. — Filepic

JOHOR Indian Petty Trade and Small Business Association (Jipta) is helping those who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic, start a food truck business.

Jipta chairman D. Ravindran said the association hoped to get financial support from the Federal and state governments to ensure the success of the project.

He said that apart from the association’s ordinary members, it would also target its allied members comprising youths, single parents and those unemployed due to retrenchment.

“These groups need assistance to help ease the hardship brought on by Covid-19 and the movement control order.”

He said the move would help reduce the state’s unemployment rate, as a high number might lead to an increase in street crime.

Ravindran said the pilot project would start this April with some 20 operators selling food and beverages at a parking lot in Taman Perling, Johor Baru.

He said the association, which has 300 members, would help the food truck operators apply for business licences from Iskandar Puteri City Council.

He further said it would also introduce the hire-purchase scheme so operators could buy such a truck at an average price of about RM60,000.

“We hope relevant agencies can provide soft loans to the operators, ” he said, adding that Jipta planned to extend the project to other districts in Johor, starting with Kluang in May, under phase two of the project.

JB Bazaar Traders Association chairman Roslan Abd Hamid said the Covid-19 pandemic had badly impacted the business of its 200 members.

“On average, their business is down by 75% to 85% since the start of the first MCO in March last year.’’

He said JB Bazaar — better known as Pasar Karat and held nightly in Jalan Segget downtown — was not only popular among those from outside Johor Baru but also with Singaporeans and Indonesians.

“But the number of visitors is dwindling and we are barely able to make ends meet, ’’ he added.

Roslan said although Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) had waived the RM100 monthly rental when business at the bazaar was temporarily suspended during the first MCO last March, it did not help much.

“Now that business is improving, we hope that MBJB can consider extending our operating hours from 6pm to 10pm under MCO 2.0 to 2am like it was before Covid-19, ” he said.

Johor Baru City Businessmen and Traders Association president Roland Lim Chin Eng lamented that business was down by 30% to 50% since last March.

He said the closing of the border between Malaysia and Singapore from March last year had badly affected businesses in Johor Baru.

“Malaysians working in Singapore, who are now stuck in the republic, used to spend their money here but now they are spending their earnings there, ’’ said Lim.

He said another pressing issue faced by all 200 members of the association was rental, as their landlords wanted them to continue paying although their income had declined.He added that this had forced many members to close shop.

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food truck , Jipta , covid-19


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