‘Streamline opening hours’

A poultry seller helping customers to choose the chickens displayed in a chiller at the Taman Free School market in Penang. – Filepic

THE Federal Government should be consistent and streamline the operating hours for hawker stalls at public markets, said Penang local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo.

He said while markets were allowed to open at 6am, the hawker stalls inside the markets were only allowed to start operating at 8am.

“Although they are in the same premises, there is a difference in operating hours.

“When people come to the market to get their food supplies in the morning, they want to buy food to take home.

“However, they can’t do so as the hawker stalls are not open yet when they are done marketing.

“It is not easy for the hawkers as times are tough and many of them live from hand to mouth,” he said at a press conference outside the Taman Free School market on Thursday.

Jagdeep said in Penang, both city councils had written letters to the National Security Council (NSC) to consider synchronising the operation hours.

“The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has first written a letter to NSC on May 31 to ask for permission to synchronise the operating hours.

“We received a letter on June 3 stating that the standard operating procedures (SOP) must be adhered to.

“We have 35 facilities whereby the hawkers stalls are inside or next to the public markets under the supervision of MBPP.

“The difference in timing has affected the livelihood of 1,297 hawkers at the 35 premises.

“A special meeting with MBPP was held and we have decided to make one more appeal to NSC for reconsideration to synchronise the operating hours. We have written and sent the letter to NSC on June 23 itself,” he said.

Jagdeep urged ministers not to make a blanket decision but to look into the number of cases in every state before drafting the SOP.

“I hope that they can seriously consider stating different SOP for different states according to the number of cases.

“There is a difference in the number of cases in every state but the SOP is the same.

“The public’s health and safety is of utmost priority but it must also balance with economic security.

“I agree that we must be firm in this fight against Covid-19.

“All SOPs must be strictly adhered to and we will continue with our monitoring,” he said.

Meanwhile, Penang Hawkers’ Association president Datuk Lam Tong Ying said due to the difference in operating hours, hawkers had suffered a loss of 50% in their business.

“Most markets are already quiet with only a few customers by around 9am to 9.30am.

“The hawkers there do not have much business.

“Before this, we could still earn around RM600 a day, but now, we only manage to bring home around RM200,” he said.

Present were Jelutong MP RSN Rayer, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi, Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong and MBPP secretary Datuk Addnan Mohd Razali.

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