BAD FOR BUSINESS:The market’s poor condition, lack of water and power supply as well as damage caused by drug addicts are turning customers away
TRADERS at the Pasar Besar Jalan Othman, better known as the PJ Old Town market, are losing business due to the market's poor condition.
Petaling Jaya Selatan member of parliament Hee Loy Sian and the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) environmental health department officers visited the market to identify problems faced by the stall operators.
Hee said he has received many complaints regarding water shortage, lack of power supply and vandalism by drug addicts, among others.
Identifying the problems is part of a major renovation plan for the market.
"This market has been here for over 30 years and it is not suitable for the community anymore.
"The younger consumers prefer to go to supermarkets because of the market's poor condition," he said.
Hee wants to present the renovation plan, which cost about RM20 million, at the next budget discussion in order to get the work started by next year.
He said the market's aisles are too narrow to accommodate 556 traders and shoppers.
The market is also in need of better facilities.
He also hopes that the traders will cooperate during the renovation period which is expected to take two months.
"We need to discuss with them on what to do when the renovation takes place because we might have to close down a few sections," Hee said.
During his visit, the traders aired their grouses and views on how the market's conditions could be improved.
Hawker, Jacqueline Soong, complained that the tables, which are supposed to be fixed to the floor, have come apart.
She said the drug addicts would come at night, push the tables aside and party there all night.
"We have to clear their beer bottles, drug equipment like syringes and other filth before opening our stalls in the morning," Soong said, adding that the traders have been facing this problem for over a year.
A fruit stall operator on the first floor, Julian Chung, would like the electrical wiring to be fixed before anything else.
A fire that broke out in one of the stalls has disrupted electricity supply, forcing the traders to run their business in the dark.
"People do not come up to the first floor anymore because it is so dark here not only in the evening but also on rainy days.
"To make matters worse, we still have to pay the electricity bills," said Chung.
Nothing has been done to the stall that caught fire. It is also attracting vermin and has an unpleasant smell.
Chung said on numerous occasions the hawkers had tried to lodge a complaint with Tenaga Nasional Bhd and MBPJ but were given the run around.
As for the proposed renovation, an apprehensive Chung wants to see the plans first.
"Recently, a steep staircase leading up to the first floor was built when what we really wanted was a ramp that would help us bring in our supplies," said Chung.
Hee assured the hawkers that immediate action will be taken to restore the water and electricity supply.
"We will also install additional light bulbs to make the place brighter and ventilation fans for better air circulation," he said.
Hee added that financial assistance from the Federal government is needed as MBPJ is unable to foot the bill on its own.