Tough times for Sibu Central Market vendors as business drops by 95%

All quiet at the Sibu central market

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SIBU: It will take one to two years for business at the central market here to return to normal due to the huge impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sibu Central Market Hawkers Association chairman, Yiing Chung Ming said that though new infections had dropped this week, their businesses will take time to recover.

On March 22, Sibu recorded 38 new cases. The number dropped to 36 cases the next day and just 17 on March 24.

The central market was placed under three weeks of temporary closure from Feb 8 due to the spike in cases. In early February alone, 47 new cases were recorded.

The closure was to stop the spread of the disease.

However, when it was reopened on March 1, the 1,200 hawkers who are operating on alternate days, found the place almost deserted by the public as there were not many customers a day.

“Our business has dropped by up to 90 per cent. Life is very difficult for us now. There are not many customers every day as people fear getting infected with the disease,” he said.

Yiing noted that stalls selling even small items like bean curd and bean sprouts are left with unsold products at the end of the day as there are few buyers daily.

“This is the first time that the market is quite as the number of visitors has decreased by 95 per cent. We can understand that the people are scared of contracting the disease that is why they are not coming here,” added Yiing who has been operating a stall selling cuttlefish for more than 40 years already.

Regular customers, he said, have cut down on the number of trips to just once a week from three to four times previously.

“There are a few visitors. How can we do business like this?” he asked.

The hawkers are now trading on alternate days depending on their stall number. However, a number of them prefer to take leave for safety reasons. -DayakDaily