KAYU HITAM: SIXTY petty traders near the Changlun wet market here are upset with the Kubang Pasu District Council. Many of them have been trading their wares at the site for more than 10 years.
However, during the upcoming fasting month, they will have nowhere to continue trading.
A spokesman for the upset traders, Adnan Hasan, said they were disappointed with the local authority for allowing traders from elsewhere to peddle their wares at the present site during the fasting month.
"It is very cruel of the local authority. Many of us have been trading at the site for more than 10 years and we have never had to share the site with others," he said after he and some 20 irate traders held a peaceful demonstration at the market recently.
He claimed the council had called for a balloting exercise to decide who gets to trade at the site during the fasting month.
"Some 80 traders from elsewhere took part in the balloting. We decided to boycott the exercise because we thought it was unfair of the council to allow others to take over the trading site," he said.
Another trader, Hazani Harun, said her livelihood would be adversely affected during Ramadan.
"Where am I going to set up my fruit stall during the entire fasting month? I don't mind sharing the site with outsiders, but the council must give priority to the original traders," she said.
In response, the council's public relations officer Zainal Abidin Mohammad said the move to open up the site was aimed at giving opportunity to any trader interested in setting up a stall outside the market during the fasting month.
He said it was just for the fasting month and that the "new" traders would cease to operate at the site after the fasting month ends.
"We encouraged all, including the original traders, to participate in the balloting exercise, but they chose to stay away," he said.
"We understand their concerns and we are willing to allow them to set up their stalls at another site nearby."
He said another balloting exercise would be held for the original traders to decide on their trading lots at the new site soon.
Zainal said the council would provide canopies and ample trading space for all traders.
He said the move was to ensure uniformity and would help the council enforce the various trading and health by-laws.
"We also want to weed out illegal traders since there have been complaints on them from some of the original traders at the site," he said.