By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, May 2: There is more to the reopening of Metrocity N6 Youth Night Market here than meets the eye as small-time traders struggle to make a living amidst the worrying number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the state at present.
The Petra Jaya Hawkers Association which is in charge of the night market also known as Metrocity Uptown noted that its reopening had led to arguments among members of the public.
Some dissenting voices viewed the operation of the night market as an opening for another Covid-19 outbreak and new clusters to occur while some others labelled it as ‘unfair’ since Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) in its latest standard operating procedures (SOPs) announced on April 26, had instructed all night markets in Kuching Zone to halt operations effective immediately until May 17.
The association’s president Mohamad Khairuzie Bolhassan explained that Metrocity Uptown was instructed to close on April 16 but had reopened last Friday (April 30) after receiving approval from SDMC to operate.
“We had undergone various procedures in convincing the authorities on the SOPs that we practised at Metrocity Uptown from the first time we reopened after the movement control order (MCO) was lifted in June last year.
“We worked hard to reopen Uptown because 80 per cent of our traders earn their income from solely operating at the night market.
“If Uptown closes, our full-time traders would be heavily affected especially when we, the association and traders alike, had invested a lot for Uptown’s operations,” he told DayakDaily when contacted today (May 2).
He said during the MCO period last year, the government had rolled out various assistance and the banking institutions had offered deferment on all loan and financing repayments.
“However, we cannot expect the government to continue spoon-feeding us. That is why the association was adamant in convincing the authorities on how strict our management SOP is, not only for the traders but also the visitors,” he added.
Operating from 4pm to 10pm, Khairuzie said there is only one entry point at Metrocity Uptown with only 600 people allowed into the 2.76-acre premises at any one time.
The entry point would be sanitised three times a day, he added.
Within the premises, the association’s enforcement team would monitor SOP compliance and ensure that only three visitors are allowed under each canopy of the trader’s stall and only two people allowed to dine at each table.
He also disclosed SOP compliance is strictly monitored with the help of related agencies including the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela), the police and local councils.
Khairuzie pointed out that while it is hard to stop people from talking, there should be no such thing as ‘playing politics’ when it comes to the reopening of the night market; only compassion over the misfortunes of others. — DayakDaily