THE 18 traders operating at Sungai Merah Heritage Walk in Sibu, Sarawak, are enjoying brisk business while waiting for the completion of a new market costing RM4.55mil.

There are five eateries aside from stalls selling vegetables, fish and meat including poultry at the temporary market site.

Their old place of business, Sungai Merah market, which was built in the 1950s, will soon be demolished.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) market and petty traders standing committee chairman Albert Tiang told reporters at the opening of the Sungai Merah Heritage Walk hawker centre that the hawkers were all doing well.

“Business at this temporary site has been overwhelming.

“A hawker told me he does not even have time to rest as he is so busy serving customers,” he said.

Tiang said the hawkers had been worried that they would lose business when told to relocate to a temporary business area, but this was not the case here.

“Before moving them to a temporary site, we take into consideration the environment, traffic flow and availability of parking space so that their business is not affected,” he said.

He noted that the food stalls were also operating at night, which was something they could not do at the old market.

“The council also allows traders to place tables and chairs along the walkways for customers to dine,” he added.

Tiang said the new double-storey market would be completed in 18 months.

“The carpark will be on the ground floor and the number of stalls at the new market will be increased to 28,” he said.

On another matter, Tiang said public toilet operators were allowed to sell tidbits and drinks next to the facility to earn extra income.

He said the toilet operator at Sungai Merah Heritage Walk was the first to open a mini stall next to the washroom.

“This is good as we want them to earn additional income in this tough time.

“We are aware that contractors of public toilets owned by the council are making losses.

“The entrance fee to the toilets cannot cover their workers’ salaries as the minimum wage is RM1,500 now,” he noted.

Tiang said that despite seeing losses, the operators kept the toilets clean and in good condition.

The entrance fee for public toilets is 20sen and toilet paper costs 20sen.





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