Tough time controlling crowd at Penang market

Back to old routine: Visitors crowding Lorong Ipoh near the Jelutong market to get breakfast and their daily essentials.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

GEORGE TOWN - As the seventh week of the movement control order rolls in, authorities are desperate to keep one of Penang's "hot" markets in order.

Pictures of the narrow and cramped Jelutong market, which caters to a densely populated neighbourhood, have been circulating on social media and drawing public alarm.

A check yesterday showed Rela officers using loud hailers to remind the crowd to maintain a distance from each other. Only 20 customers were allowed to enter at a time.

Outside, a few roadside traders were seen operating, even though authorities had barred roadside hawkers and traders from operating in the markets here and in Ayer Itam, Jalan Perak, Pulau Tikus and Bayan Baru.

Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong described the number of people at the market as "usual" yesterday.

"The Jelutong wet market appears congested due to the cramped space and narrow lanes. Motorcyclists and people using the road together make it look messy and crowded.

"Several city councillors and I are planning to block the road to stop motorcyclists from going in.

"Rela volunteers will make sure social distancing is maintained inside the market.

"There are city council enforcers outside to maintain order, " he said.

Ong has been looking for ways to help roadside hawkers who are unable to carry out their business since March 22.

"I received many phone calls from traders telling me that they have no income.

"We are planning to allow them to operate on a rotation basis on alternate days, " he said.

Market-goer Cecilia Goh, 35, said she was thankful that local authorities were keeping everyone in line despite the large crowd.

"I saw several city council enforcers and Rela volunteers inside and outside the market to make sure people wear masks and keep safe a distance from each other.

"Although there were many people when I dropped by at around 8am, I understand that this is because many people are going to start work today and decided to do some shopping early in the morning, " she said.

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