KOTA BARU, Dec 29 ― Unprecedented flooding here has turned clean beds, showers and televisions into among the most valuable commodities in Kelantan at the moment and local hotels are also seen cashing in on those willing to splurge for a bit of rare comfort.
From the luxurious to the lower-end, hotel rooms in Kelantan's capital have all been taken up and mostly by evacuees from nearby areas who scrambled to seek shelter since the floods hit the east coast state a week ago.
Five-star outfits like Perdana and Renaissance, two of the few hotels unaffected by the flood, said all of their rooms, including the most expensive suites, were immediately booked after the first sign of floods hit the city, but the hotels have continued to receive requests for reservations despite the full house.
At budget outfit Tune Hotel, Chang Farn Yong said all 120 rooms have been completely booked with occupants renting on a day-to-day basis since Christmas and are willing to continue renting until the flood subsides.
“They are usually from just around here... even from just across the street. We have families here and they would usually rent a few rooms,” Chang told Malay Mail Online.
Tune Hotel is located close to the state's main river and is on a street badly hit by flood.
Chong said many of his hotel's clients are victims who fled their homes with bare necessities as they were unprepared by the pace of the flooding, which the National Metrological Department had described as unprecedented.
“This is the first time it reached at such a critical level so some can't even take their belongings,” he said when asked why evacuees picked his hotel as shelter.
Chong also said he would not describe the situation as profiteering as some of the client-victims were his friends and neighbours.
“I wouldn't say we are making money (out of the floods)... we are also worried that we are only able to give them limited services but they don't mind.
“All they want is a place to keep dry,” he said.
Water, power and internet services throughout the city have been severed by the floods.
Oustide Chong’s hotel, however, profiteering is rife amid the flood crisis, witnesses say.
Food items such as chicken have doubled in prices while services like transportation also saw drastic increases in fares.
“We can see traders marking up the prices. One whole chicken is now RM30 when it used to be about fifteen ringgit. Fish prices have increased by two or three ringgit,” a taxi driver told Malay Mail Online.
But businesses are already showing signs of returning to normalcy albeit slowly as water levels begin to subside around Kota Baru and other parts of Kelantan.
Several food stalls and sundry shops are already opened to customers, and supplies are making its way to traders who are capitalising on the low traffic to sell food stuff right next to the main roads around the city, and selling them fast.
One trader said consumers are still weary that the north-easterly monsoon could strike again and prolong the flood, which make them stock up on food stocks in case supplies get cut off again.
“The water seems to be subsiding but we are on the alert,” the trader said while noting that most parts of the city are already drying up.