KUALA LUMPUR: AS criticism grows against the government for allowing night markets to reopen amid the escalating Covid-19 pandemic, traders pledge to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOP).
Jalan Lazat Happy Garden Pasar Malam Association president Hong Kam Cheong said traders would follow the SOP set by the authorities and expressed hope that the public would do the same.
He said stakes were high and traders who barely survived the three-month closure during the first Movement Control Order (MCO) were conscious of this.
“We are very aware of the situation. The moment we don’t keep to the SOP, we will be closed down.
“And many of us will be unable to support ourselves and our families again. That’s the understanding.
“And because of that, we have maintained adhering to the SOP since it was introduced during the Conditional MCO (CMCO) in June.”
It is understood that if traders violate specific Covid-19 SOP, police or City Hall can shut down the night market on the spot.
The 51-year-old trader, however, also urged the public to do their part and follow the SOP.
“Give us a chance to earn a living. For many, especially those from the B40 income group that make up most of our traders, it means not going hungry.
“Our traders have no one to ask money from. If they don’t do this they will end up on the streets.”
Hong also rejected claims that the opening of night markets on Fridays was the reason behind the significant jump in Covid-19 cases.
“Don’t make stories like this. New infections take between seven and 10 days to show symptoms,” he told the New Sunday Times.
Jalan Lazat’s night market, which opened yesterday, saw 47 traders catering to 400 visitors since 6.30pm.
Kuala Lumpur Pasar Malam Management Association secretary Roy James Charles said there had yet to be clusters emerging from night markets.
“I challenge those objecting to the reopening of night markets to prove otherwise.
“Our problems mainly stem from customers who refuse to queue, (some) trying to get in the area through the back lanes despite the erected barricades.
“There was one guy who refused to wear a face mask, tried to the skip the queue and did not want to have his temperature screened. We had to settle that fracas at the police station.”
He said the SOP was constantly monitored by night market associations and organisers with the help of People’s Volunteer Corps officers.
“Our queues are distanced and there are (distancing) markers at all areas.
“We are also adopting a new guideline set by Kuala Lumpur City Hall, which states there should not be more than two or three people lingering in front of stalls.
“The same goes for traders. They will have to clean up and leave even before the closing time, once their business is done.”
Charles, who is also Kuala Lumpur Mobile Pasar Malam Association secretary, which operates six night markets in Cheras, said there were 66 stalls and 1,168 visitors to the Taman Midah night market on Saturday.
“The traders have yet to go all out since selling other items, save for foodstuff, is not allowed for now.
“However, we were told by City Hall that except for clothes and shoes, accessory shop items such as watches and women’s accessories can be sold.”
City Hall had yet to confirm whether accessories could be sold at the markets under the new guidelines.
“We hope that City Hall would help us by taking action against illegal traders who take advantage of our night markets to set up stalls and breach the SOP.”
Earlier checks by NST found that business at the Taman Desa night market was slow with only up to 30 stalls and around 60 people, including traders, on site.
Hong, who is also president of the Fasa 1 Taman Desa night market, said there were about 50 traders and 1,200 visitors when it was opened on Friday.
For Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman Hawkers and Traders Association chairman Azkhalim Suradi, the night market in his area would remain closed for now as traders found the pandemic had reduced the number of patrons significantly.
Source: New Straits Times