By Lau Bing
Under Local Municipal Council by-laws, or strictly speaking, no hawker is allowed to trade along roadsides and road shoulders or on pedestrian walkways or pavements legally or illegally, let alone when it is a busy narrow road.
In fact, once a hawker sets up a food stall in these places and, if it is not removed immediately, others will come in to set up more stalls in the vicinity. They merely exist because the local authorities had seemingly taken the matter lightly, thus giving a public impression that someone in the enforcement has an eye closed or is on the take.
Otherwise, how could such an illegal hawker food stall survived for days and months, some say they have been there for 5-10 years or more. Come to think of it, this means, the law enforcement officer or officers had failed to perform their duties. This is really a suspicious business.
And, knowingly by allowing an illegal hawker food stall to operate in the area or place, even for just one day, it will be madness and chaotic to residents, traffic and health. Yet, there area few such hawker food stalls in Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya, whose owners have claimed that they had squat there selling nasi lemak, goreng pisang, goreng ayam, burgers and hot dogs among others without a business licence for quite a while now though without direct tap water supplies, a washroom for answering nature’s callings and, last but not the least, a wash area for washing bowls and plates.
For instance, there is one roadside hawker stall in section 8, Shah Alam reported by Ben Yap on 5/5 in a local tabloid found selling laksa and goreng pisang in unhygienic surroundings.
At another roadside hawker stall in SS14, Subang Jaya, the operator had unprecedentedly cemented the road shoulder for placement of tables and cooking utensils.
There is neither any direct tap water supply nor (there is) a proper area for workers to clean and wash up, let alone a toilet for answering nature’s callings. This in itself is evident of workers having to work in unhygienic conditions. So, how could this roadside stall in SS14 Subang Jaya operates hygienically without all these essential services and amenities?
In fact, the operator of this roadside hawker stall had killed the grass on the road shoulder by cementing the ground and for squatting there (at the same spot) every afternoon for umpteen years.
As usual, the customers had no where to park the car except right in front the stall or just dump it anywhere along the stretch of road. This is dangerous to other motorists passing by at the place where the stall is set up.
However, there is another area for the Local Government to act, apart from doing the foregoing jobs. They should also get the operators of all mobile hawkers who had been given business licences to station the food catering vans temporarily in an open space of township to move out as well because they often chose to park the vans inside public parking lots in busy town centers and as a result they have infringed the by-laws.
Not only that, they are not paying any parking charges for occupying the public parking lots and that means the local government is losing revenues everyday with them occupying the parking lots for free.
The worst part is motorists who are going around looking for a vacant (empty) parking lot will have to make more rounds before getting one to park. So, they (these mobile food catering vans) have in a way contributed to the worsening parking woes (problems) in the town center.
They (these food catering vans) should be relocated inside public playgrounds or gardens or stadium or get them to use the parking lots inside a public car park building.
If the foods and cooking is good, tasty and affordable, then, they should not worry about loss businesses because people will go anywhere for good and tasty foods and especially when it is cheaper to eat there.
A law is a law and it has to be implemented and adhered to once a notice to vacate occupancy of government land had been served to an illegal dweller or dwellers, regardless of circumstances and claims.
In the eyes of the consumers, they reckon that if these (legal and illegal) hawkers are allowed to continue with their businesses along roadsides and road shoulders and on pedestrian walkways and pavements they will remain a menace in the neighbourhood – like for causing traffic congestion and noise disturbances, apart from making the place a haven for insects and pests to roam about like ants, flies, cockroaches, lizards crows, rats, cats and dogs, to scavenge for food remnants.
Malaysia is progressively pushing forward to become a developed nation by 2020, and if these roadside hawker stalls continue to mushroom in towns and cities, it will make the nation look ugly like a ‘kampong’ and inevitably it will be too late to help resettle all of them at the eleventh hour.
This is a calling to the relevant Local Municipal Councils to relocate all these roadside stalls inside municipal food courts or eateries without much ado, so that they (the operators) can continue making a living, by finding a suitable place to put up a few strategic structures to house the stalls. While at the same time to see that no new ones get to set roots anywhere. And, to evict them immediately once they set foot.
Not to forget to rope in all end-lot coffee shops and mamak bistros and kopitiam as well for using the road shoulders or pavements to put up tables and chairs or food stalls, because when they took over these road shoulders and pavements, there is no more room for a car to use during an emergency like to avoid hitting an on-coming car which accidentally swerved into the wrong side of the road.
In fact, there had been numerous arguments from car owners about indiscriminate parking and, also for blocking the way of road into the homestead. Of course, there were a few near accidents cases too, to think of.