Plans are underway to demolish a century-old market that was once a significant icon in Balik Pulau town.
The hawkers, who had traded at the market built in 1914, have moved to the new market complex on Jalan Tun Sardon, leaving the old market empty and unused.
It has, however, turned into a haunt for homeless folk looking for a place to rest since it became vacant three years ago.
According to Penang Municipal Council’s public health standing committee alternate chairman Tay Leong Seng, there were plans to turn the old market into a car park to reduce parking woes.
“So far, cars have been parked indiscriminately along the main road, causing traffic congestion,” he said yesterday.
Tay said the demolishing of the building might take place this year after approval had been given.
He stressed that the market was not considered abandoned unlike Sungai Ara’s Pasar Desa Ria, which had been a ‘white elephant’ for seven years.
It was reported in yesterday’s StarMetro that the market had failed to attract traders or customers despite being equipped with facilities and located beside a food court.
Penang Ratepayers Association chairman Datuk Eddy Choong said there should be enforcement against illegal hawkers who operated their businesses in front of licensed traders paying rent for stalls in the market.
“It’s not that I don’t sympathise with the errant hawkers, but there should be a balance of what is required as it’s not fair for the rent-paying traders,” he said.
He added that proper planning and responsibility on the part of the developer and education should be in place.
“If all those do not work, enforcement has to come into play,” he said.
Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff said any form of development in Balik Pulau must have public engagement with the local people.
“It must benefit the people of Balik Pulau while being sustainable at the same time. We need to get the views of the people and experts before anything is decided for the building that is the pride of the people here.
“Urgent attention should also be brought to the cleanliness and security of the area for the safety of the residents who stay there,” he said.
Hin Hoe Huat fruits stall owner Alex Quah, 48, said fewer customers frequented his stall since he moved to the new market three years ago.
“At the old market, stalls usually opened at 6am and close at 8pm. But here at the new place, they would close by 1pm except on weekends and public holidays where there would be more customers,” he said.
He hoped that more people would reside in the area over the next few years for an increase in sales.
A vagrant, who was found resting at the old market, claimed he had had several ghostly encounters during his stay there.
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