Tiang (right) in a discussion with Kenny Yu (left), the head contractor of the rewiring works on Sibu Central market. Ling is seen at second left. — Photo by Peter Boon
SIBU (Dec 29): The Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) never told traders and hawkers at Sibu Central Market to close their stalls for 14 days to facilitate electrical rewiring works going on there, said Councillor Albert Tiang.
The SMC Market and Petty Traders Standing Committee chairman said the council had never issued such directive.
“We (SMC) want the hawkers to continue trading, earning their livelihoods.
“We never asked them to close their stalls for 14 days. However, it is up to them whether to come and trade or not. If they do, they could operate from very early in the morning up until 7.30am or 8am.
“If the (trading) area is unaffected (by the rewiring works), the traders and hawkers can continue trading,” Tiang told reporters when met at the central market here yesterday.
His remarks were made in response to a statement by Dudong elected representative Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing published on the Chinese newspapers yesterday, which said SMC had asked hawkers to temporarily close their stalls for 14 days to facilitate the rewiring works on Sibu Central Market.
Nevertheless, Tiang said with regard to the ongoing works on the market, the traders and hawkers must cooperate with the contractor to ensure that the works could be conducted smoothly.
“In the event that they (workers) are laying wires over your stalls, you need to stop work – probably for one day or two days, the most, in the interest of safety.
“Many people are turning up to trade every day. Those not coming out (to operate their stalls), I don’t know (the reason) because we never ask you to do so – all we ask from you is to cooperate with the contractor.”
According to Tiang, the SMC issued a notification to the hawkers and traders on Nov 22, informing them about the electrical rewiring works on the central market, so as to enable them make early preparations.
“What’s being informed is that stallholders are required to vacate their stalls for a few days, in phases, based on the progress of the project.
“We have never said (for hawkers to stop operating) for 14 days, as to what is alleged,” said Tiang, adding that the council had never issued any directive to close down an entire section of the central market.
“We want the hawkers to continue trading while the rewiring works is being carried out,” he reiterated.
“In fact, even several Covid-19 cases were detected in the central market previously, which prompted the call by the relevant authorities for the closure of the entire market, we had appealed against we understood that the decision as the hawkers needed to make a living.
“So, we would not stop them from trading. But if some hawkers wanted to take a break until the rewiring works had been completed, that’s their call.
“Like I said earlier, if they wanted to come early and trade until 7.30am or 8am, that’s fine, as long as it would not obstruct the rewiring works. The hawkers have all agreed.”
Tiang believed that there might have been certain individuals who were out ‘to twist the facts’ about the whole matter and in this regard, he called upon those wishing to get more information to feel free to contact him.
“I assure you that we would furnish complete information, in black and white.
“That’s why today (yesterday) after reading about the matter from the Chinese newspapers, Sibu MP Oscar Ling had come to get a better understanding about the situation. So, I showed him around (Sibu Central Market),” Tiang elaborated.
On the rewiring works, the councillor said it covered six zones of the central market.
He said the works on Zone 1A and Zone 1B had finished, while those on Zone 1C kicked off on Monday.
“Zone 1C, which covers the wet market, would be close for two days, to facilitate the rewiring works.
“As for the 2A, 2B and 2C zones, the works will commence after the Chinese New Year,” he said.
Meanwhile in his remarks, Ling acknowledged the importance of good communications between the SMC and the contractor in identifying and solving any problem.
“We really need to minimise the obstruction that may affect hawkers’ operations because the majority of them (hawkers) have already ordered their stock that they want to clear before the Chinese New Year. In this respect, we really need to help accommodate our hawkers and minimise the losses incurred by them.
“In this regard, the SMC and the contractor have to communicate well with each other in solving problems.”
Back to Tiang, he said the wiring system at the market had never been replaced since its construction many years ago.
“The old wiring system could no longer withstand the current overload.
“There would be up to six power trips in the weekend, when usage is the highest.
“So this project is meant to stop overloading, which could trigger fires,” he added.