Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Petty traders unhappy over rent hike

By Naveen Mathew Menon
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SELAYANG: Thousands of petty traders and food stall operators under the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) are unhappy that rental rates for their stalls have been raised by the council.

Yesterday, about 45 traders operating from stalls in Jalan Len Omnibus in Taman Selayang Baru, sent a petition to the MPS, requesting the council not to raise the rental for the stalls.

Haja Bahavudeen, 53, who sells food such as mee goreng, tosai and idli at his stall here, said it was getting too expensive to rent a stall in the district.

"I have to take care of my wife and two children, one of whom is mentally retarded."

He said with numerous restaurants operating in the area, competition was stiff and he could only make about RM1,000 on a good month.

He hoped the council would not increase the rent for the stalls as the economic situation was not good.

Another affected food operator Au Kam Mooi, 44, who sells yong tau foo from her stall along Jalan Len Omnibus said she was badly in need of money to educate her two daughters.

She said she could make ends meet because her husband was working as a supervisor in a factory.

"Basically, business here is only good during the morning market hours. After that, we don't get much business though we keep our stalls open until 11am," she said.

At a press conference held at a restaurant near the stalls here yesterday, member of parliament for Selayang, William Leong said: "I have received many complaints from traders and stall owners throughout Selayang and Gombak, about this problem," he said.

About 2,500 petty traders and small businesses are affected by the rental hike.

"Stalls like the ones in Jalan Len Omnibus have been set up to give opportunities to people from the lower income group to carry out small businesses.

"I think MPS should not raise the rent for stalls as it is not the right way to increase the revenue of the council," he said.

"We know that the MPS is facing financial difficulties and are trying to find ways to increase their revenue. But, don't take money from petty traders and those who are working hard to make a living to solve the council's multi-million ringgit financial problem.

"The problem with MPS is that although they have RM120 million in revenue, more than 50 per cent of it goes to Alam Flora.

"Then, there are contracts which have been given out more than five years ago to contractors whom many people are complaining about because they no longer do their jobs well."

He said MPS should first lower their expenses by solving these issues and then increase their revenue from other sources. "Don't tax the lower income group," he said.

Leong said he had written to the president of MPS, Datuk Zainal Abidin Azim, requesting him to review the decision and stop the rental increase. The councillors have also had a meeting and agreed that the rent for the stalls should not be increased and the issue should be discussed at the next full board meeting.

He said traders in other areas under the MPS would also be voicing their dissatisfaction over the rent hike.

Leong said one of the ways of lowering the expenditure of the council was by having an Integrated Waste Management System.

"Currently, garbage had to be taken to Bukit Tagar for disposal. Because of the distance, the number of trips which the contractors can make are limited. So, there are illegal dumping grounds on the way to the dumpsite.

"Having an integrated system in Selayang will bring down the cost of garbage collection and disposal," he said.

Also present at the press conference was Selayang councillor A. Murugeshu.

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