Still under lockdown, Petaling Street traders question DBKL directive to repaint shops now

A GrabFood rider is pictured riding past Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur June 3, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A GrabFood rider is pictured riding past Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur June 3, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 ― Traders on Petaling Street here voiced their frustration against a directive by the City Hall (DBKL) to repaint the exterior of their rented shop lots by the City Hall.

The Star reported today that the notice was just recently issued, when most businesses in the Klang Valley are still shuttered by a prolonged lockdown under Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), now nearing the third month.

Traders quoted by the newspaper called the directive untimely and insensitive as it came at a time when profits have been severely hit by the pandemic.

Some of the buildings along the famous shopping street, most dating over a century old, have dilapidated exteriors.

The DBKL notice, issued under Section 75 of the Local Government Act 1976, requires tenants of these buildings to wash or repaint the building’s exterior with quality paint within 30 days, the paper reported.

Kenneth Tan, proprietor of Merchant’s Lane Cafe, was quoted calling the notice ill-timed. The comment was posted on social media, where he complained that it was difficult to hire a contractor for the paint job, according to the paper.

“I have spoken to some of the contractors and none of them dare take up the job. They fear that they might get fined by the authorities for carrying out non-essential maintenance work during the first phase of the NRP,” he was quoted as saying.

“Secondly, a majority of businesses here are closed or on the verge of closing and receiving the notice is just frustrating,” Tan added.

Traders can be fined not exceeding RM1,000 or jailed not more than six months or both if convicted for non-compliance under Section 75 of the Act.

An additional fine not exceeding RM100 for each day can also be imposed after conviction until the order is complied with.

Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association chairman Datuk Ang Say Tee said the directive came at a time when traders are suffering.

“Although DBKL can exercise its right to issue the notices, it should not do so during a period when businesses are suffering,” he was quoted as saying.

“We objected to the move and urged the building occupiers to appeal to the mayor’s office for a time extension. The association will also help traders and shoplot tenants address disputes with the authorities.”

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