LABUAN: Labuan Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli suggests that a bazaar be established as a total solution to the long-standing issues faced by petty traders at the Labuan Central Market within the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) building here.
All the 163 traders who shifted to the UTC building from the old market building in 2015 have been suffering due to insufficient income to settle the monthly rental of RM310 (for old traders) and RM400 (new traders). Complaints include the fairly-concealed and isolated lots, high rentals, and inadequate or defective facilities.
“I have visited every row in the UTC building where the traders are doing business. Some have closed shops, while the rest continue running their business despite not getting a single sen daily.
“But, as most of the traders are already ageing and have limited employment opportunities, they just continue to do business there. They remain simply because they are very interested in doing business, which they have done for more than two decades, since from the old market,” he told reporters after visiting the market here today.
Rozman, who is also the Labuan Corporation (LC) advisory council chairman, said it was imperative to set up the bazaar in view of the lack of customers patronising the current market.
“The bazaar building can be like the place we used to have, with more appealing, convenient and welcoming design. It (the bazaar) could be at the old market or at a new site next to the UTC building which LC purchased when I was chairman,” he said, adding that the bazaar could be promoted as another Labuan tourism product in the future.
Rozman said the hundred-odd lots currently occupied by the traders could be transformed into Labuan’s first ICT (information and communications technology) corner and some “half-covered and hardly-seen” lots could me turned into offices.
“As the substance requirements (such as having adequate full-time employees) are currently imposed by the Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) for industry players to operate in Labuan, certainly the demand for offices is high. The ICT corner should be considered as the market demand for gadgets is also high,” he said.
Rozman said traders had appealed to him to convey to LC to reinstate the 50 per cent discount given in 2015 (RM200 monthly rental after discount) as traders also must pay monthly electricity bills currently.
“I was told by traders (during his visit to the market) that LC is planning to revise upward the current discounted rental of RM310 back to the original rental of RM400, and this is like rubbing salt into the wound. I sympathise with the traders,” he said.
Petty trader Maikasum Madon, 58, described it as a “nightmare” doing business in the UTC building’s Central Market as even getting a RM1 sale was tough in a day.
“I must be honest to you, if I get RM1, alhamdulillah (praise be to God), as it is like we are in drought season, whereby getting even one customer a week is difficult. We are having a hard time since we shifted here,” she said.
“I continue doing business daily here because there is nothing else I could do to earn money. My husband is not well and driving a taxi but he is also having limited income due to competition from e-hailing services,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pasar Sentral Traders Association deputy president Asmadi Ahmad expressed hope that the LC would listen to the traders’ grievances.