Dumpling seller vents on fallout from vehicle-free move, glad to be heard by Melaka mayor

MELAKA: A bak chang (traditional rice dumpling) seller made attendees at an ad hoc dialogue session on the Bandar Hilir vehicle-free zone plan burst into laughter when she "gate-crashed" the session to give her views.

The session on Tuesday (Aug 22) was arranged by Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong to listen to the predicament of the business community along Jalan Temenggong here.

The road is now one-way only, to accommodate the plan to turn several streets in Bandar Hilir here into a vehicle-free zone during weekends.

ALSO READ: Reconsider plan to turn tourism stretch into vehicle-free zone, traders urge Melaka govt

The 60-year-old woman, who gave her name only as Madam Teh, rode her motorcycle right up to the hotel where the dialogue was being held, then marched to the front of the hall and grabbed the microphone from another trader.

Melaka Historic City Council (MBMB) mayor Datuk Shadan Othman also seemed to be tickled pink as the woman shared her views on diverting vehicles.

Madam Teh said she heard about the dialogue and decided to rush to the venue, an open area outside the hotel.

She said she was busy selling dumplings at a nearby wet market and could not get there sooner.

"I wanted to give my views on diverting traffic to the nearby street so that our livelihoods are not affected, but the way I spoke probably made others laugh.

"I am okay with that (since) the mayor was kind enough to respond," she said.

ALSO READ: Vehicle-free zone gets mixed reactions from tourists and traders in Melaka

Shadan said later the session had produced positive input that would help work out a win-win solution for the business community and city council.

He said MBMB will forward the traders' views to other stakeholders in the state government.

"The business community here agreed to cooperate with the state government on the vehicle-free zone initiative.

"We (MBMB) will give them all the support to resolve any setbacks faced due to the changes in traffic flow," he said.

Shadan said other issues raised during the session included frequent flooding and the need for a mass clean-up, now scheduled for Sept 2.

He said many tourists had given the thumbs-up to the vehicle-free zone and 4,000 visitors were registered on Saturday (Aug 19).

"Many tourists praised the move as they were able to enjoy the heritage trail and take pictures of historical buildings without being disturbed by heavy traffic," he said.

Shadan said the vehicle-free zone will only be enforced on Saturdays, and not Fridays and Sundays as announced earlier.

The roads that will be closed from 6pm to midnight on Saturdays are Jalan Istana, Jalan Mahkamah, Jalan Gereja, Lorong Gereja, Jalan Laksamana as well as parts of Jalan Tun Khalil Yaakob and Jalan Merdeka; while Jalan Temenggong has been permanently turned into a one-way street.

The idea of car-free streets was first mooted by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh in May and initially received backlash from traders.

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