PETALING JAYA: The decision if the iconic Jonker Walk will become a daily attraction will be known in June, says Datuk Gan Tian Loo.
The Jonker Walk management committee deputy chairman said the Melaka Historic City Council would deliberate on the proposal after discussions with the relevant stakeholders.
“The committee has submitted a proposal and the city council would discuss with various parties, including the state tourism promotion division, shop owners and stall traders along Jonker Walk.
“We will know the outcome in a few weeks,” he said when contacted on Tuesday (May 17).
Gan said the committee had previously conducted a study with most shop owners and stall traders there welcoming the proposal.
“For now, the Jonker Walk is only closed to traffic and becomes a pedestrian mall from Friday to Sunday.
“Following two years plus of the Covid-19 pandemic, the area has somewhat died down on weekdays with little traffic and crowd.
“This not only happens in Jonker Walk but also on several other streets in the heritage city such as Jalan Kee Ann, Jalan Bunga Raya, Jalan Tengkera, Jalan Kampung Hulu and Jalan Kampung Pantai.
“That’s why we mooted this idea to prevent our heritage streets from becoming a ghost town. The plan will also help to boost economic activities,” he said.
Gan said under Phase 1 of the plan, Jonker Walk would go live every day from the main arch near the Tamil Methodist church up to the stage area.
"There are 10 empty shop lots along this stretch now which before the pandemic, used to be bustling with activities.
"The plan is to open up more eateries or bring in hawkers, offering local delicacies to liven up the area," he said.
Gan also said Jonker Walk needs to be rejuvenated with new ideas and elements to attract people on weekdays.
"Jonker Walk is stagnated now after 22 years.
"We should revive the glory days when even locals would come here for their daily necessities, groceries or food," he said.
From the usual 100 shops and 500 stalls during the pre-pandemic times, Gan said only 5% of the shops remained following the two-year pandemic.
With the country reopening its borders in April, he said 95% of shops have reopened while over 400 traders have returned to operate their stalls.
As of April this year, Gan said that based on check-ins on the MySejahtera app, Jonker Walk received 302,939 visitors with the most visitors recorded in January (88,048), February (66,671), March (69,228) and April (78,992).
When contacted, Melaka Heritage Shop Owners Association president Chua Yong Chuan said members were supportive of the Phase 1 plan where only a part of the Jonker Walk is closed to traffic to give way to more eateries or food stalls.
"This will encourage more locals and visitors on weekdays and support local business during night time."
However, Chua said the association was not agreeable to having the entire stretch of Jonker Walk turned into a pedestrian mall every day.
"Having the stalls operating daily is not convenient in the long run.
"We hope the authorities will keep the status quo and only open up the front portion of the street daily under Phase 1," he said.