THE move to stop direct distribution of food to the homeless during Ramadan will cut down on wastage and keep city streets clean, says Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Association for the Homeless and Needy.
Its chairman Rashdan Rashid said Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) decision to stop non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals from doing so would also ensure that only those who truly needed food would get it.
“NGOs and individuals are not the only ones who are going to distribute food.
“Hundreds of Ramadan bazaar traders in the capital city will also plan to distribute their unsold food.
“This happens every year, so it is best to have a designated place for the food to be received and distributed accordingly, ” he said.
Rashdan urged donors to call DBKL beforehand to arrange for a slot in order to avoid confusion and food wastage.
On Saturday, DBKL issued a Facebook statement that NGOs and individuals would not be allowed to distribute food directly to the homeless in the city during Ramadan.
The local authority had said that the decision was made to prevent food wastage, maintain cleanliness and adhere to the National Security Council’s Covid-19 standard operating procedure.
DBKL said groups and individuals distributing free food to the homeless could only do so at three locations, namely Pusat Transit Gelandangan (Jalan Pahang), Pusat Khidmat Gelandangan (Medan Tuanku) and the Community Learning Centre (Jalan Chow Kit).
“Anyone found distributing food at any other place will be penalised, ” said a DBKL spokesperson.
“The homeless receive too much food sometimes.
“This results in wastage and untouched food is often left to rot along corridors of shoplots where they sleep at night, ” said the spokesperson, adding that the food attracted rats and lizards.
DBKL has also received complaints from shopowners, who have to clean up the rubbish the next morning.
Non-designated hotspots for feeding programmes are in front of CIMB Bank Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Masjid Jamek area, Jalan Petaling and Central Market.
Chris Tan, a shopowner in Jalan Petaling, is thankful that DBKL has addressed the problem.
“People who distribute food here to the homeless should stay on and clean up the mess after that.
“It is not a pretty sight and bad for business, ’’ he said.
A trader, who only wanted to be known as Tiong, hoped the groups distributing food would follow the rules.
“Ramadan is a time to be caring and courteous to one another, and I hope they practise that, ’’ she said.
Those who plan to distribute food in the city can call DBKL at 03-2617 6321 for the feeding schedule.
Last year, due to the movement control order, waste company Alam Flora recorded an 18% drop in domestic waste collection when Ramadan bazaars were cancelled.
For the first 20 days of Ramadan last year, Alam Flora collected 27,000 tonnes of domestic waste in Kuala Lumpur compared to 33,000 tonnes collected in 2019.
A major contributor to the daily domestic waste collection was unfinished and unsold food at Ramadan bazaars, apart from food packaging like plastic bags and polystyrene containers.