ALOR SETAR: As many as 30 traders at Medan Pasar Besar here are up in arms over the steep hike in rental for their stalls and are demanding an immediate explanation from the Alor Setar City Council (MBAS) on the issue.
The traders claim that the rental rate has jumped from RM90 to RM550, which is expected to take effect on Feb 1, and described it as absurd since they would “go out of business” as most of them are small-time traders from the B40 group.
Drinks seller Shahi Zabiad Mohd Sharif, 35, said the problem arose after the food court was privatised to a company carrying out upgrading and management work for the past three months.
“MBAS did not inform us about the privatisation, suddenly the representative of a private company came to announce that the new rental has increased from RM90 to RM550 per month while we also have to pay a deposit of RM2,000 before resuming business again come Feb 1.
“We were shocked, I think this is the highest rental (rise) record in Alor Setar. Where are we to find the money when we are merely selling coffee, nasi lemak? We hope it will be reduced to a reasonable rate,“ he said at a press conference here today.
Shahi Zabiad said he was also disappointed with the attitude shown. They claim they will omit traders who fail to pay the monthly rent consistently and take on new ones.
“We went to MBAS this morning and MBAS said the mayor held a meeting this morning. We will meet again to ask for clarification on the privatisation and the high rent… for MBAS to intervene and solve this issue,” he said.
Drinks seller Zahira Shokut Ali, 45, claimed the rental increase should not happen because there is no change to the business site, equipment and other facilities at their marketplace.
“Our business now is not exactly a roaring trade. Monday to Thursday no customers, Only Friday to Sunday there are more people… there are single mothers doing business here, with many school-going children, they too want to go to university, which means a lot of spending. And fasting month is coming up next and we will be off for a month without work, how are we to pay the rent?” she asked.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Association of Malay Vendors and Petty Traders in Kedah, Baharudin Mohd Ali, said he has sent a letter of objection over the privatisation of the food court in question to MBAS for further action.
“We hope MBAS can find the best solution for traders who have been doing business here for a long time. We hope to have a meeting with all the traders soon,” he said. -Bernama