by AMIR AZLAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market in Selayang still faces challenges despite the gradual reopening of the economic sector post-pandemic, as wholesalers seek to restore public’s confidence and face growing competition from nearby markets and traders.
Traders at the wholesale market — which is divided into three sections namely vegetable, fruit and seafood — are finding it hard to get back on their feet as the previously imposed lockdown and the spot’s notorious reputation for various Covid-19 outbreaks had affected them severely.
“During the lockdown, we have to adhere to the time limit that had been set by the Nation Security Council, this is very hard for us as a wholesaler as it disrupts our supply chain as the goods cannot come in and we could not sell fast enough before the produce turns bad,” Kuala Lumpur Fruits Wholesaler Association president Nyuk Moy Chin told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
“Additionally, when the restrictions were lifted, we could see a downtrend in our supplier and customer visits here as they do not know whether we are open or is it safe for them to come.
“One more thing, as we are trying to stay afloat (due to) the pandemic, most of our business have been overrun by that outside of the premises. We are truly disappointed as the local authority (Kuala Lumpur City Hall or DBKL) law had clearly said that other businesses (within) a 1km radius from the premises cannot sell the same produce that is being sold in here, but around here you could see that the law is not being followed, which is clearly a challenge for us as it is more convenient for our customers to shop outside rather than here,” she explained.
Based on TMR’s observation, the fruit section had many empty lots indicating that the traders at the Selayang wholesale market were badly affected during the pandemic, while the ones that are still running their business expressed their concerns about the situation.
Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesaler Association president Wong Keng Fatt shared similar sentiment as the pandemic had cost the association members their customers. They are slowly trying to regain the trust and confidence of the customers, and are asking the authority to look into the issue of other traders outside of the gated premises to ensure their survivability.
“This is a very challenging time for us as since we had been closed down so many times because of the outbreaks, most of our customers have dealt with other suppliers to cater to their needs.
“We also would like to ask the authority to please look into the licence requirement outside of the premises as it is not logical for us (gated premises) that the customers have to pay to get into to compete with the other wholesalers (outside) that provide the same goods as us.”
Previously, the wholesale wet market was under heavy restrictions as the area (Selayang) and the premises were designated as a red zone due to the Covid-19 outbreaks.
Nyuk said to ensure visitors and the wet market community’s safety, her association spent RM900 weekly on sanitisation to ensure business could run smoothly as they cannot afford another lockdown that could potentially pose a negative impact on the traders’ recovery.
“From our own weekly collection, we sanitise this place regularly so that people are safe and confident to come here.”
Kuala Lumpur Hoi Seong Fish Association president Sing Kian Hock is committed in warranting every worker at the wet market has completed their vaccination and plans to appeal for booster shots to be given to the workers soon.
“During the outbreak, I was very disappointed when I heard that many people had died from the virus, especially those that worked here (at the Selayang wholesale market). Hence, the reason why I am very stringent in assuring that every hand that works in the markets is properly inoculated, as apart from avoiding losses from closures, we have to take care of each other’s wellbeing to give us better prospects as we recover from the pandemic.”