Sibu night market moves to Cross Road

NO MORE THERE: After 40 years, the night market has been shifted to the Butterfly Garden at Cross Road. Photos by Othman Ishak

SIBU: The sun has finally set on Sibu Night Market at Market Road, thereby closing a chapter on its glorious 40 years as a tourist hot spot.

The tourism-award-winning market had been reputed as the most successful and the biggest ‘pasar malam’ in Sarawak where townsfolk could buy almost all household items under the evening sky.

The historic moment for the former wet market building came on Sunday night when its 176 traders operated their stalls there for the last time.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE: An assortment of food on skewers.

The traders opened their stalls as usual at 5pm on Sunday, and by 10pm, they packed and went home.

As it was closing, a hawker selling drinks said: “Good bye, Pasar Malam of Market Road. We are leaving you behind; we may never come back again to trade here.”

Business that night went on as usual. Not many townsfolk realised they would be there for the last time.

Beginning last night, the new night market is a block away at Cross Road – at the car parking lots which the townsfolk call The Butterfly Garden.

A housewife, when asked on Sunday night on how she felt of her last trip to the market, expressed shock.

“I have heard about the relocation but I did not realise it has come so soon.” The 42-year-old woman said she went there almost nightly on her way home because she needed to buy steamed buns for breakfast the next day.

REFRESHING AND FRESH: A vendor selling both imported and tropical fruits.

“I don’t know if it is convenient to buy buns nightly at the new location. I shall try. If it is inconvenient, I shall buy from another place but I will miss this old night market.”

A few hawkers, when asked on the relocation, refused to comment, saying they would analyse the situation at the new venue first.

But most traders said they were used to trading at Market Road because for some, they had been there for three generations.

The night market was opened in 1973 when the local council provided a trading venue for villagers following their mass exodus to the town during the Emergency Period.

AN ASSORTMENT OF JEWLERY: Necklaces, rings, ear rings and anything a lady needs are all here.

Meanwhile, Sibu Municipal Council’s Petty Traders and Market Standing Committee chairman Chieng Buong Toon said yesterday they expected the market not to run smoothly during the first week as the traders needed to get used to the new environment.

He, however, assured that more than a dozen enforcement officers from the council would be stationed there to help out.

“As I see it, the situation might be messy at first. Be patient. Let things work out.”

Chieng said Cross Road would be closed to traffic at 4pm, and the hawkers would move in at 5pm.

THE IT DEPARTMENT: A boy and a woman at the stall selling IT items.

He said at the other end of the market at Island Road, traffic would be closed at 3pm to make way for the setting up of the market.

“I hope owners will drive their cars out of Butterfly Garden at 4pm.”Although the hawkers are reserving their comments, shop owners surrounding the Butterfly Garden are already complaining.

When met yesterday, they said the regulations of the night market were impractical.

They were fuming because they said the council had not sought their opinions.

“They want our cars to leave the Butterfly Garden at 4. We close at between 5pm and 8pm. This means our workers will need to drive their cars out at 4pm and return to their workplace again, only to leave the office thereafter at 5 when they finish work.”

There are 40 traders doing businesses in the shops there. Some said they would normally be still unloading at 4pm, and their unloading activities might stretch till nightfall.

Taxi drivers too are unhappy.

AN OPTICAL CORNER: A customer trying sunglasses at a stall.

POTATO ROLLS: A stall selling deep fried food

FRESH FROM THE OVEN: The stall selling roast pork, chicken, braised pork and others.

AROMATIC: Hawkers selling the ‘Apam Balik’ kuih.

ROADSIDE STALL: A typical scene at an Asian market

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