Water shortage hampering Ramadan bazaar traders in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Ramadan bazaar stall operators have not been spared from Sabah’s water shortage problem, says Datuk Dr Rose Nani Mudin.

The Sabah Health director said it was challenging for hawkers to cope with the issue and keep their stalls clean.

She then added that they must comply with health regulations to ensure their food was safe for public consumption - particularly under the Food Act 1983,.

"Of course it (the water shortage) will affect food handlers as it limits their ability to wash their hands, or clean their plates and pots, among others,” she said after visiting a Ramadan bazaar here on Tuesday (March 28).

“But I think they must prepare themselves much earlier before coming to the bazaar.

“For example, they have already prepared some food at home and packed it nicely.

“So, if they look after this element, where they cover the food and not touch it with their bare hands, the food will be safe (for consumption),” she added.

The state’s water shortage issue, which has been festering over the past two years, seems to have worsened with people complaining almost daily about the problem now.

Those living in flats and condominiums are among the worst affected by the low water pressure with their taps sometimes running dry for days.

At the same time, those observing the fasting month are finding it a struggle.

On another issue, Dr Rose Nani said the department met with the Sabah Veterinary Services Department (DVS) on Tuesday with an eye to improve the monitoring system on food safety.

She said her department has its own unit to monitor the safety and quality of food.

“It conducts random sampling, including on chicken, meat and others (including) testing for salmonella which can cause sickness. This is done routinely.

“In fact this morning, we had a meeting with DVS to strengthen this surveillance system," she said.

On the smoking ban at restaurants, she said the department was monitoring outlets and fining those caught flouting the rules.

She said it had been issuing fines to offenders in various districts but the public only knew about the fines when extensive operations were conducted.

She added that the department was trying more to educate people about quitting smoking.

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