New lease of life for Chow Kit traders

DBKL agrees to extend the operating hours to 4pm and traders can operate 6 days a week

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

IT WAS a huge relief for some 1,000 traders at Jalan Raja Bot, Kuala Lumpur (KL), or famously known as Chow Kit, when they were finally allowed to resume business early last month.

In May, the wet market topped the list of the country’s Covid-19 clusters with daily double-digit infections, causing the area to be placed under a “semi-enhanced” Movement Control Order (MCO).

This had put over 2,000 businesses in the community at risk as they were forced to cease operations to give way for disinfection processes.

Federal Territories Bumiputera Hawkers and Petty Traders Association secretary general Sharin Darus said the number of visitors at the wet market have quadrupled since the reopening on June 1.

“The market is now open from 6am to 2pm.

“On the first day of reopening, around 1,000 customers came to the market which is only 1/10 compared to the normal days.

“However, the numbers of customers have been encouraging with more than 5,000 people on Sundays, although it is still far from the 10,000 daily footfalls prior Covid-19,” Sharin told The Malaysian Reserve.

He said the KL City Hall (DBKL) has agreed to extend the operating hours to 4pm and traders can now operate six days instead of only five days a week last month.

On the seventh day, the market is closed to allow disinfection works by health authorities.

Sharin hoped that traders will soon be allowed to go back to operating until 6pm so more customers can visit Pasar Raja Bot.

He estimated the losses suffered by the traders at Jalan Raja Bot to be in millions of ringgit due to the MCO.

Besides shorter operating hours and lower footfall, Sharin said the traders and business communities at the market were also required to go through Covid-19 tests, which were well-received and showed good results.

On Monday, 160 traders at the old market had gone for the test conducted by a private practitioner.

DBKL and the association managed to get a 50% discount for the service, which usually would cost more than RM300 per test.

“For this round, traders had to pay for themselves as the quota for free examination by the Health Ministry (MoH) had been fully utilised.

“We expect the remaining staff, around 150, and traders who are yet to be tested will do so as soon as possible,” he said.

The Covid-19 test was conducted at one of the market’s entrances.

For the first round, Sharin said more than 1,000 traders at the market took the test.

He believed that once all the traders are cleared from Covid-19 and they can operate at full capacity, Pasar Raja Bot will attract more customers while observing procedures set by the health authority.

On June 11, Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said MoH will not conduct any Covid-19 screening for Chow Kit traders as the area had been declared as a green zone.

He said any traders or individuals from the area who are keen on being screened can do so at private laboratories.