LABUAN: Long queues outside supermarkets continue to be seen in this international offshore financial centre as parts of the island goes into lockdown from midnight today.
“People were standing in queues from 6am, three hours ahead of our opening time. I’ve never ever seen it in Labuan before,” said Jerry Teoh, who helps operate his 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 what they need. Sometimes we try to control it,” he said when contacted.
The panic buying started after it was announced that eight localities, including parts of Labuan town, will be under lockdown for two weeks from tomorrow to June 28.
Teoh said many customers were buying excessive amounts of rice, sugar and cooking oil, among other essentials.
On the store’s online platform, certain customers are raking up bills as high as RM500.
Teoh said the island’s major supermarkets selling sundry goods would be able to sustain for at least a week with their current stock.
After that, the situation will depend on whether importers and distributors are able to deliver the goods.
“We are highly dependent on goods arriving from Sabah and imports from Port Klang but many distributors are currently having manpower shortage as their workers are under Covid-19 quarantine,” he said.
Furthermore, Teoh said due to the high incidences of Covid-19 cases that included the fast-spreading Delta variant, many lorry drivers from mainland Sabah were reluctant to come to the island not only out of fear but also the cost for the mandatory Covid-19 test to enter the island.
Some wholesalers on the island have suspended operations due to the Covid-19 situation while some consumers are claiming that prices of goods have gone up.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry Labuan Unit officials acknowledged that there was a shortage of cooking oil and the matter would be addressed in stages in this week as supplies were already with distributors.