WITH Ramadan starting in the middle of next month, many are wondering whether they will be able to enjoy festive fare like ayam madu, lemang, murtabak and roti john this year.
Physical Ramadan bazaars were cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order restrictions.
Traders then turned to online platforms to reach out to customers.
When asked about the possibility of physical Ramadan bazaars this year, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said it would depend on whether the National Security Council (MKN) would allow them.
“However, the Selangor government will continue its e-kitchen programme.
“The programme has helped traders earn an income.
“There are plans to make it an ongoing initiative, not just during Ramadan, ” he was reported saying earlier this month.
Under the e-Kitchen Selangor initiative introduced last year, traders could sell buka puasa favourites and other food and beverage items on e-commerce platforms.
The traders were placed at specific locations or e-kitchens that served as venues for packing of food, while delivery was done by third parties like e-hailing companies.
Customers placed their orders through an app or website.
No cooking activity or walk-in purchases were allowed at the site.
State local government, public transportation and new village development committee chairman Ng Sze Han said local councils in Selangor had gained good experience in managing morning and night markets with standard operating procedures in place.
“So I don’t foresee a problem if Ramadan bazaars are allowed, ” he said.
He added that he was aware that some local councils had invited traders to apply for lots as preparations must be done early.
Meanwhile, Ng said the state government would be aggressively promoting its digitalisation efforts in Selangor.
“Under Pakej Kita Selangor, we have allocated RM15mil as part of the Skim Niaga Darul Ehsan that grants micro credit to small traders and Go Digital to provide an e-commerce platform for them, ” he said.
Drive-through in PJ
In addition to physical Ramadan bazaars, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is planning to organise drive-through trading sites this year.
“There are two drive-through bazaar locations. They are the Kelana Jaya Stadium carpark in SS7 with 84 lots and the Damansara Damai Community Hall carpark at Jalan PJU10/1 with 37 lots, ” said MBPJ Corporate Communications officer Ahmad Iskandar Mohamad Mukhtar.
“The concept is similar to the drive-through service at fast food restaurants, whereby customers conduct all transactions from their vehicles.
“The traders will be categorised based on the items they sell, ” he explained.
MBPJ has designated 18 locations for regular (non-drive-through) physical Ramadan bazaars in the city this year, although the number of trading lots has been halved compared to 2019 because of physical distancing requirements (see chart).
“The Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara location had to be removed from this year’s list due to ongoing LRT3 construction work.
“MBPJ has already called for applications for trading lots at all 20 bazaar locations (including the drive-through sites) in Petaling Jaya, with the first round ending on March 13, ” said Ahmad Iskandar.
“Applications are invited for a second round to be held between March 17 and 20 for locations where there are vacancies, ” he said, adding that the entire process was done online.
The fee structure for physical and drive-through Ramadan bazaar permits are the same, although the rates vary depending on the products sold.
It ranges from RM145 for a permit to sell kuih or desserts, to RM195 for cooked dishes and stalls with gas or grills, and RM295 for those selling sugar cane and coconut drinks.
While the basic fees cover one assistant’s card, apron, cap and SOP management service, the difference is in the rubbish collection fee, with higher charges imposed on businesses that generate more waste.
The Ramadan bazaars will operate from 4pm to 7pm, with the same SOP for morning and night markets in place.
This includes use of face masks, hand sanitiser and contact tracing QR codes.
“Rela officers will be stationed at all bazaar locations to ensure compliance with SOP.
“If payment is done but MKN decides that Ramadan bazaars cannot be held, we will refund the money to applicants, ” Ahmad Iskandar assured.
Other councils’ plans
Meanwhile, other local councils such as Subang Jaya City Council (MBSJ), Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) and Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) said they were waiting for the green light from the state and federal authorities.
“If the state government allows Ramadan bazaars to be held, MBSA will proceed to organise them at 31 locations, ” said MBSA Corporate and Public Relations head Shahrin Ahmad.
“Bearing in mind physical distancing requirements, the number of trading lots offered will be about 1,000 this year, compared to some 1,600 in previous years.”
He said the figure did not include Ramadan bazaars held by private organisers or associations.
“The trading permit fee ranges from RM207 to RM297.
“While the SOP is similar to those for morning and night markets, Ramadan bazaar traders can only sell food and beverages, ” said Shahrin.
MPS Corporate Communications director Mohamad Zin Masoad said the council would discuss Ramadan bazaars and the permit fee structure at a business and health control meeting on March 18.
“To gauge interest, we sent out letters on Feb 26 to MPS councillors and associations that held Ramadan bazaars in 2019.
“As of March 8, our Licensing Department has received applications from associations and residents committees for seven bazaar locations under MPS’ purview, ” he noted.
Mohamad Zin added that the number of trading lots would depend on the bazaar’s location and physical distancing requirements.