I have long wished that local government would be more lenient and lend a more supportive hand towards the roadside traders who sell their wares in sometimes, a very unsavoury condition. Fruits, cooked food, delicacies and drinks, which some may be a gastronomic treat, are most of the times unpalatable due to the surrounding area. The duty then should fall on the local grovernments to educate the traders on matters regarding hygiene and not leave them to be penalised by summons from not only the local government themselves, but various other authorities involved! But, that is another story.
In early January 2007, I had a pleasant surprise when contractors laid foundations to some small constructions. The thing which I longed for seem to finally come true - units of 1, 2 and 3 stalls were being constructed to cater to the needs of the roadside traders. To me it is indeed a delight to note that these traders - whom many are unable to pay for shoplot rentals which average RM4,000 in Kota Damansara - would be able to ply their trade without constant harassment by the various authorities. Consumers too would benefit as I understand the traders would now have to maintain their stalls to a certain standard of hygiene, and with it the education or food handling courses they have to attend. Kudos, MPPJ! However, all is not what I thought it would be.
Opposite a row of shophouses, there's a construction of what seem to be a single story longhouse. On a close inspection, this building, when completed, would house some 20 units of stalls meant for food traders. On a single glance, one might not think much of it and even welcome the idea of relocating those food traders there. Mind you, these food traders are those selling tomyam, mee goreng, nasi ayam and what not; a rather different breed of traders than mentioned above who sells kueh and fruits.
As I look at the upcoming units, I wonder if the traders think what I am thinking, that they're being shortchanged by the local authorities? Am I going overboard with my simple assesment? Well, you decide:
1. The 'longhouse' as I'll refer to them from now, will house some 20 units of stalls with each measuring some 10ft wide with a depth of 20ft. Its size alone will not be able to cater to not only the need of hygienic food preparation, but also that each stall will now have lesser customers as the size if the stall would mean a sitting capacity of only 2 tables of four per stall!
2. With such a cramped environment, I have no doubt at all that hotilities will arise as each stall fights for space and most certainly, customers.
3. The limited sitting capacity would also mean lesser income. This in turn means a more aggressive trading, one that would very well mean a higher selling price with a smaller portion. In other words, consumers will have to pay more!
If the 3 simple reasons above are not factors enough, then consider this: each trader will have to buy the stalls at a price of RM56,000 per unit, down from the initial cost of RM80,000 (how very kind of MMPJ, my foot!).
In all, I think the local government here is not trying to assist those traders at all. In fact, in the long run, they are killing them! With a dwindling income that fill follow the relocation, I cannot see how they'll be able to repay their loan. And if they cannot repay their loan, would not the financial institution/s involved take legal action against them? Do you now blame the traders for taking money from ahlongs?
Kudos, MPPJ? I think not.