KOTA KINABALU: Long queues outside supermarkets could be seen around Labuan as people continued panic buying before parts of the island go under total lockdown from 12.01am Wednesday (June 15).
"People were standing in queues from 6am, three hours ahead of our opening time. I've never ever seen it before in Labuan," said Jerry Teoh, who helps operate the family-owned Hap Huat Superstore.
"People are panic buying essentials. It has been chaotic for the last two days. Many of them are buying more than they need. Sometimes, we do try to control it," he said when contacted by phone on Monday (June 14).
He said many customers at the supermarket were picking up rice, sugar and cooking oil among other essentials, adding that even their online sales platform was recording individual customers racking up purchases totalling RM400 to RM500.
Teoh said the major supermarkets selling sundries would be able to sustain for at least a week with current stocks; after that, it would depend on whether or not importers and distributors would be able deliver more goods.
"We are highly dependent on goods arriving from Sabah and imports from Port Klang but many distributors currently face manpower shortages as their workers are under quarantine," he said, referring to the distributors' lorry drivers and general workers.
Furthermore, Teoh said, high incidences of Covid-19 cases that included the fast-spreading Delta variant left many lorry drivers from Sabah reluctant to come to the island – not just out of fear but also over the cost of mandatory Covid-19 tests needed to enter the island.
"We are hoping that the government would look into the issues we face and help resolve them," he said.
Some wholesalers on the island have currently suspended their business due to the Covid-19 situation while consumers have claimed that prices have gone up.
The Labuan unit of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry acknowledged that there was a shortage of cooking oil but supplies were already with distributors.
Labuan has around 10 supermarkets and a number of sundry shops to cater to the island's population of about 80, 000.
Eight localities including parts of Labuan town will be under total lockdown for two weeks from Wednesday to June 28.