MBPJ: Limited gates open at Old Town market for crowd control

For many months, this gate facing Jalan Othman 4/40 served as the only entry/exit to the market, forcing customers to take a longer route and delivery trucks to wait longer.

PETALING Jaya City Council (MBPJ) only allows selected gates at Pasar Besar Jalan Othman to be opened as part of crowd control measures and to ensure compliance with Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

“MBPJ assessed the market before deciding what time and which gates should be opened, ” said an MBPJ spokesperson.

“We set delivery and unloading time from 4am to 6am. Between 7am and noon, only one gate is open to customers on weekdays and two gates on weekends.

“Thermometers, QR codes and logbooks for customer registration are available at the market’s entrance and volunteers are stationed there to ensure visitors comply with the SOP before entering, ” he said in a statement.

He disclosed that MBPJ received an application from the Pasar Besar Jalan Othman Traders Association, through the area’s local councillor, requesting permission to open a middle gate at the back of the market as additional access for customers.

“The request was approved, on condition that the association had a Rela officer or volunteer stationed at that entrance. However, based on our observation, the association did not fulfil that condition, ” he said.

StarMetro’s report on March 2.StarMetro’s report on March 2.

MBPJ’s statement came after StarMetro highlighted issues faced by customers and traders at Pasar Besar Jalan Othman, better known as PJ Old Town Market.

Some of the issues included limited gate access, increased rental rate, worker shortage and traders’ representation at meetings.

“The revised market rental rate started in August 2020. MBPJ decided that the market’s maintenance cost would be borne by tenants (traders) and that it would be included in the rental rate to be paid by tenants, ” said the spokesperson.

“Before the revision, traders only paid for the rental of their trading lots. MBPJ bore the maintenance cost and didn’t pass this on to them.

“Based on 2021 records, MBPJ’s Valuation and Property Management Department data showed that about 70% tenants made their rental payments. This is a positive indicator that the average trader is still able to pay rent, ” he said, adding that MBPJ gave a two-month rental waiver last year as a form of assistance to the traders.

On charges for freezer units, MBPJ said it was a fee imposed on traders who placed the freezers in common areas and had been enforced at other public markets owned by other local councils.

No charges are imposed if the freezers are placed within a trading lot.

As for the ban on slaughtering chicken at the market, “it is in line with a letter from Housing and Local Government Ministry, dated April 2006 and citing the Local Government Act, that all poultry slaughtering activities are not allowed at markets under local councils, ” said the spokesperson.

“The Selangor Mentri Besar issued a similar statement on the ban in May 2020. As such, MBPJ issued a notice in June 2020 disallowing chicken slaughtering and processing at public markets.

“This is in line with Section 21 (5) of the Market By-law (MBPJ) 2007 and Section 101 (V) of the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171).”

On whether there could be some flexibility on the hiring of foreign workers, the spokesperson said it was not possible as per a circular issued by the Selangor Secretary’s office that foreigners could not be hired as workers or assistants under traders’ licences.

“MBPJ has enforced this ban by closing stalls that employed foreigners as workers or assistants. A total of 53 stalls were ordered to close last year for committing this offence, ” he said.

The spokesperson also said the management of a wet market involved several departments handling different aspects.

“They include Valuation and Property Management Department for lot/stall rental; Solid Waste and Public Cleaning Department for cleaning and garbage collection; Licensing Department for business licence; Engineering Department for building repair and maintenance work; and Health Services and Environment Department for enforcing public health regulations.”

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