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MALACCA: The state government never had any intention to close down the Jonker Walk night market, said state Housing, Local Government and Environment exco Datuk Ismail Othman.
"There was never any decision to shut down the night market. The whole issue was blown out of proportion due to misunderstanding over our decision to open Jalan Hang Jebat, also known as Jonker Street, to traffic over the weekends.
"Closing down the night market and opening up the road to traffic over the weekends are two completely different issues," he told reporters at Seri Negeri here today.
Ismail said the licensed traders could continue to run their businesses as usual over the weekends.
"However, as the road would now be open to traffic, the traders would need to shift their stalls to the sidewalk and the side alleys.
"We made the decision to open up the road due to numerous complaints of terrible traffic congestion over weekends and public holidays," he said.
Ismail said the public and tourists alike complained of having to wait up to four hours just to reach the Malacca city centre from the Ayer Keroh toll, a journey which normally take about 30 minutes.
"We hope the decision to open up the road will help ease traffic congestion, especially in the city centre.
"There was never any intention to restrict the traders from doing business, so we hope the issue has been cleared up," he said.
Also present at the press conference was state Tourism, Coastal, River and Island Committee deputy chairman Datuk Ghazale Mohammad.
Ghazale said the traders were expected to continue complying with the rules stipulated under their licence, such as clearing up after themselves once the night market closed for the day.
He added that traffic police would be stationed there to monitor the traffic flow.
Previously, the street is closed to traffic every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6pm to make way for the night market which has been in operation since 2000.
There was a huge public outcry over the decision to reopen the road to traffic on weekends starting tomorrow.