SEBERANG PERAI, April 9 — It was almost a foreign atmosphere at the Pasar Bisik Kuala Muda in Penaga here as fishermen shout out the prices of their catches, in direct contrast to the quiet whisperings the market is famous for before the movement control order (MCO) was enforced.
Today, MCO and social distancing rules are observed as fishermen hauled baskets of their catches up to the market and heaped it on trays and baskets on the floor, at a distance from each other.
Buyers, mostly middlemen, stood a metre away to inspect the fishes, crabs, prawns and various seafood on display.
Instead of the buyers whispering the prices into the ears of fishermen, it was the fishermen who shouted out the prices they wanted for each tray or basket of seafood.
The buyers who agreed to the price would pay and pour the fishes into their own baskets or ice boxes.
Previously, buyers were free to walk around the small market square to inspect the various trays of fishes on offer but this time around, they had to form a one-metre distance queue outside and take turns to enter.
Penang Police Chief Commissioner Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan, who made a visit to the site today, said the market association had ensured compliance of the MCO and social distancing rules.
“Despite the social distancing rules and MCO, the market had experienced an increase in sales so the fishermen’s income was not affected at all,” he said.
He said due to the MCO only middlemen are allowed to enter the market and the public was mostly not allowed in.
“Eventhough only middlemen are allowed, their sales have increased by about 70 per cent, it is good to see that fishermen’s income here is not affected,” he said.
He said the increase could be due to more middlemen coming to this market to get their supplies compared to before the MCO.
He said the market will have to continue with this current method of shouting out the pricing even after the MCO due to social distancing rules.
“They may continue with their whispering method after all this is over,” he said, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The market was busy with activities even till noon as fishermen continue to bring up fresh catches from the sea while buyers queued to enter.
Sahabudin said yesterday, five compounds were issued to those who breached the MCO in the vicinity of the market.
“Some were still spotted outside loitering around even after the market closed,” he said.
He said as of yesterday, a total of 587 people in Penang were arrested for breaching the MCO.
He said the compliance rate in Penang is now at 98 per cent.
“In the beginning, we noticed at roadblocks that 50 per cent of the people on the road were without valid reasons but now, we find that most are with passes and in the essential services,” he said.
He said he personally checked on one roadblock in the state and of the vehicles stopped, only one or two were out without valid reasons and were asked to go home.
“This is a good sign that most people are now complying with the MCO, we only have the two per cent who are out playing football, buying nasi lemak, the ones that have been reported,” he said.