Traders urge authorities to reopen road leading to Air Itam wet market under CMCO

Police personnel man a roadblock near the Air Itam wet market May 6, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Police personnel man a roadblock near the Air Itam wet market May 6, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, May 6 — Traders today urged the authorities to reopen the stretch of road leading to the Air Itam wet market under the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

Air Itam wet market association chairman Ooi Thean Huat said vehicles should be allowed through to drop people off and pick them up after that.

“The authorities can partially open the road to traffic for drop-off and pick-up only,” he said.

Ooi said this will make it easier for the elderly people who frequent the market so they don't have to walk too far while carrying their groceries.

He said most of the market's customers are the elderly and it is difficult for them to walk the few hundred metres to the market due to the road closure.

The authorities have cordoned off the stretch of road along Jalan Paya Terubong from the Air Itam police station until the junction of Jalan Kampung Pisang since March 30.

All vehicles are redirected and have to park outside the cordoned off area, with customers required to walk about 300m to the market complex.

Spice trader Sam Khoo also appealed to the authorities to allow the roadside stalls to reopen as they have been without income for two months.

“We have waited patiently for two months without earning anything so maybe they can now allow us to open gradually,” he said.

Khoo suggested that the authorities test the situation by allowing the roadside hawkers to operate at the market and see how to enforce social distancing rules.

“We can arrange our stalls at a distance and market-goers here also understand that they need to stand at one metre apart, they will know to queue up,” he said.

Khoo said all market traders in the complex and within their own shops are able to operate all this time but the roadside stalls were the ones suffering as they were not allowed to operate at all.

Air Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng speaks to members of the media at the Air Itam wet market May 6, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Air Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng speaks to members of the media at the Air Itam wet market May 6, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Air Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng said market traders have brought their complaints to him.

“Many roadblocks in the state have already been removed, so maybe the authorities can consider reopening this road,” he said.

Ng said if the authorities are worried about crowding at the market if the road is reopened, he suggested a time limit for the road closure.

“Maybe close the road during market hours of 6am to 12pm and reopen it after that so that those living around this area and Paya Terubong can use this road again,” he said.

Ng also appealed to the authorities to consider the requests by the roadside hawkers to reopen along the road around the market complex.

“Maybe the council can consider allowing 50 per cent of the stalls to reopen on a rotation basis so that there won’t be crowding,” he said.

He said the livelihood of the traders in the market is severely affected due to the road closure and reopening the road will help to revive business for the traders.

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