MIRI (July 26): Miri City Council (MCC) has defended its move to shutdown illegal hawkers in Lutong yesterday morning, which has been slammed as an “inhumane” operation.
The local authority said the move was necessary following complaints on non-compliance with the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
It said in a statement that the operation from 6.30am until 7.30am was carried out in a disciplined manner with a passive approach in order to minimise resistance from the hawkers in spite of provocation from some members of the public.
“The operation was carried out successfully with seizure including big trading umbrellas, vegetables, fruits and discarded boxes which are now deposited at the council’s enforcement store where they can be reclaimed.
“MCC wishes to state that the enforcement action was necessary due to the numerous public complaints regarding unlicensed hawkers who were trading at parking lots and public places and also due to non-compliance of the Covid-19 SOP,” it said.
It added that in the latest complaint received on July 18, the illegal hawkers had encroached into the five-foot-way of the nearby shophouses and blocked the entrance into Tamu Lutong.
MCC said the illegal hawkers had been occupying parking lots, five-foot-way and open spaces permanently outside Tamu Lutong at Lutong Bazaar during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
“The enforcement operation was carried out in accordance with the provisions under Local Authorities Cleanliness By-Laws and Covid-19 SOP after they had ignored numerous verbal warnings,” it said.
The statement also said the general public, traders and shopkeepers have been blaming MCC for seemingly taking no heed of the presence of unlicensed hawkers who posed a threat to their safety since they were not obliged to observe Covid-19 SOPs.
Thus, MCC said it called upon the public to understand and cooperate with it on the matter, though it may seem “inhumane” to certain parties as alleged in social media.
“Enforcement action was necessary to avoid the situation getting from bad to worse due to Covid-19 pandemic especially with the detection of the Delta variant in Miri recently,” it said.
Earlier yesterday, Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru) president Bobby William told MCC to explain the operation, which he labelled as “inhumane” towards the hawkers and traders.
“The MCC team came and took away their produce in a way which I believe is clearly inhumane. The produce that they are selling there may have been brought from kampung, and life is already hard now,” he said.
Bobby lamented that MCC could have put up notice or block the area to prohibit unlicensed traders from selling their produce there.
“The traders might be unlicensed traders or they are not supposed to sell there. But MCC could have done better to prevent such inhumane acts towards these poor traders who have no choice but to sell whatever they can for a living,” he said.