Thursday, October 23, 2008

Petaling Street traders in a fix

KUALA LUMPUR: City Hall's move to set up 90 stalls in Petaling Street, to be run by former dadah addicts, has upset the traders now operating there.

City Hall said the idea of the stalls, to be located opposite the Kota Raya shopping centre, came from national drug rehabilitation organisation (Pengasih).

It is a means of helping former dadah addicts to earn a living and is part of their rehab programme.

Pengasih will give a list of former dadah addicts who qualify to operate the stalls to City Hall.
The new stalls were demarcated by City Hall in the wee hours of Sept 26.

But the Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association said it was not consulted by City Hall and the association did not consent to the setting up of the new stalls.

The traders see those operating the new stalls as unwelcome competition in a time of rising costs and reduced business.

Jenny Ho, who has run a dumpling stall in Petaling Street for more than 30 years, said: "There are already 773 stalls here, and if City Hall adds more, there won't be any business left for us."
Mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan said recently the move was to improve the management of hawkers and traders in the area.

He said some of the present stalls at the Petaling Street junction are an eyesore and obstruct pedestrians.

He added that the stalls are illegal and many are run by illegal immigrants.

"With the new lots, the stall owners will have no choice but to apply for a petty traders licence, which will subject them to conditions that they keep their areas clean and regulate the types of goods they are allowed to sell.

"The main objective was to legalise these stalls and to prevent the sale of items like pornographic video discs. There was also the issue of illegal immigrants running many unlicensed stalls in the area. It will tidy things up, and will improve enforcement and the management of hygiene," said Petty Traders Management and Development Department director Ramly Othman.

Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun said: "How can City Hall approve so many stalls without consulting the traders? This is not right. Some of them have been doing business here for many years. They should have been informed of any new development because at the end of the day it will affect their rice bowl," he said.

"I support City Hall's move to help Pengasih get an area to do business, but Petaling Street is not suitable. I hope City Hall will look into my suggestion to locate Pengasih's stalls elsewhere."
Petty Traders Association president Chan Kai Mun claimed that Pengasih is renting out the lots to other traders at a steep price.

"We understand they are charging the new traders RM2,000, while we are paying only RM200 per lot monthly. We have written a letter to the Federal Territory Anti-Corruption Agency, and we hope they will investigate soon."

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