By Ibrahim Mahsen
SIBU, Feb 7 — The implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Sibu since mid-January has affected various quarters in this division including hawkers and traders at the Sibu Central Market here.
The Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) has ordered the market to operate with limited capacity in line with the stipulated standard operating procedures (SOPs) and traders have been directed to operate on alternate days.
However, on Feb 2 and 3, the market had to be closed temporarily after a COVID-19 case was detected in the premises. Now, it has to be closed again for a week starting tomorrow due to the same reason.
SMC’s market and petty traders standing committee chairman, Albert Tiang, said the council has no other options but to close the market on security factors although it realised that the decision could affect the traders’ income.
He said the market has over 1,100 retail spaces and could generate a daily income of around RM500,000 on normal days if operating on full capacity.
However, due to the MCO, the daily income has dropped to RM300,000 and further down to RM150,000 recently, following the implementation of alternate business operations and temporary closure of the market.
A Bernama survey at the market yesterday found that many traders adhered to the closure order despite realising their income would be affected besides having to bear the losses due to the damaged sales items.
Some hawkers there even had to auction off perishable items such as vegetables and fruits, while other hawkers tried to diversify their marketing strategies including by selling from home or via Facebook.
A Dabai fruit seller, Terra Rossa Nuing, 43, said she was not really worried about the market closure because she has her own way of selling the exotic fruit.
“The Dabai fruit can last up to three days but if we keep them with their leaves and seal them properly, the fruit can stay fresh up to one week. If the market is closed, I will sell the fruit from house to house and via Facebook. I can also deliver them to the customer’s house,” she said.
For Hii Lu Hiong, 70, who sells cockles and giant freshwater prawns, the closure of the market has affected him badly as he already obtained a large supply to meet the needs of the Chinese community for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration.
“I suffered a loss of RM20,000 because I have stocked up for Chinese New Year, but now there’s nothing I can do,” he said.