Wednesday, March 22

Traders lament nearly 90 pct drop in business due to movement control order


Yiing waits for customers at his stall.

SIBU: Many traders here are complaining of losses of almost 90 per cent since the movement control order (MCO) started on Wednesday.

Sibu Central Market Hawkers Association executive advisor Yiing Chung Ming said the sudden MCO announcement meant he had no time to plan the amount of stock he should be selling for the rest of the month.

Yiing, who sells squid at the market, said his sales had dropped drastically.

“I received the news of MCO on Monday evening, I think about 10pm, but I’d already standby my stock. Now, I just want to clear my stock. My squid is normally priced at RM30 per kg. Now, I am selling at RM25 per kg, but still no one wants to buy.

“The business is very poor; almost 90 per cent of my business is affected. There is just no business, only a few people pass by.  Moreover, almost all the restaurants and coffeeshops are closed. I’ve already made a big loss there,” he said.

Yiing, who was not scheduled to trade yesterday under Sibu Municipal Council’s rotation system, was given dispensation to trade until 10.30am to clear his stock.

Fellow hawker Yiiong Sy Ling, 42, who was not supposed to trade yesterday as well was also given leeway to finish his stock of beansprouts, which he sold at RM1 per kg instead of RM3.30.

“Normally, I clear my stock every day at about 10am, but few days ago, there was too much stock yet to be cleared. Yesterday, I stayed back until 2pm, but I still had about 5kg left. I gave it to the Blind Society instead,” he said.

Yiing said on normal days, he never had leftovers as he could estimate the number of customers daily, including orders from coffeeshops and restaurants.

“When the announcement came in, the government did not make it clear regarding MCO, so I just did according to normal business. I normally prepare about 70kg every day.

“I’ve been trading this for about 30 years; since my childhood with my father.

“This is the first time I actually experienced this. Even with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) it was not this bad,” he said.

He said SMC’s decision for trading on a rotation basis was good to enable hawkers to practise social distancing.

“We will do our best to comply with SMC. However, I have to come to trade every day this week because I need to clear my stock; I have no choice. I think next week, I will not trade for the whole week; I am just going to stay at home,” he said, adding he would make adjustments as health and family are more important.

Another trader, who only wanted to be known as Shaw, said he had to dispose of about 30kg of beansprouts on Thursday.

He stayed at the market until about 1pm yesterday waiting for customers.

Another trader, identified only as Mok, said she also had around 30kg of bean sprouts left on Thursday.

Instead of throwing them out, she refrigerated them to sell again yesterday.

“I did not soak them in the water. Once soaked, I cannot keep them any more. Right now, I am selling at RM1 but no one came.

“Everyone is making big losses here. There is no choice. What we can sell, at least we can get back some of our cost,” she said.

“I will stop trading if this continues. I think it is good for us also because we do not know the health of the customers.”