KUCHING: Closing down the Satok Tourism Youth Uptown Market, also known simply as Uptown, at the Civic Centre here is not an option, said Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) mayor Datuk Junaidi Reduan (pic).

Its relocation is also not an option, he added while pointing out that the market’s average annual turnover amounted to a few million ringgit.

“Uptown makes Kuching livelier. At Uptown, there is bound to be busking and hawkers’ shouting to attract customers so if the speakers are directed at the homes along Jalan Crockshank, they will definitely disturb the residents there, some of whom may sleep at 10pm.

“Thus, the people are not against the existence of Uptown but the problems that come with it and which are affecting the residents.

“So, if you close the Uptown, you are addressing the wrong issue,” he said in an exclusive interview with the New Sarawak Tribune and its sister paper Suara Sarawak at his office at the DBKU headquarters here yesterday.

According to Junaidi, the three problems brought about by the market are traffic problems, littering and noise pollution. “Firstly is the traffic problem and illegal parking at the venue where people park their car left and right, blocking residential pathways.

“Next is the condition of the road curbs which become muddy and dirty, especially after the rain. “There are also littering and noise pollution problems which arise from the market operation,” he explained.

Asked whether relocation would be an option for Uptown, Junaidi replied in the negative. “If you are going to relocate it, where would you relocate it? DBKU’s duty is to provide space and opportunity. “If the space provided for the entrepreneurs is located in the jungle where there are only monkeys, the entrepreneurs would have no opportunity to run their businesses.

“The space is there, but not the opportunity, so you have to consider both elements in order to create a suitable atmosphere,” he explained.

“By relocating Uptown, we will only close the ‘periuk nasi’ (source of income) of the entrepreneurs, especially the youngsters from the B40 group who want to earn a living. “They want to earn an honest living, so let the B40 group earn a living the halal way and we (DBKU) will work together with them to see how we can minimise the negative impacts.

“DBKU is supposed to help them, not kill their businesses or initiatives. So we will see how to sort out these three issues.

“If this matter comes to an end and we have no choice, then maybe we will be forced to move them out.

“But then again, we have to look for new space and opportunity for them. Moving the entrepreneurs out will only transfer the problems as well.”

Junaidi further stressed the importance of education to the Uptown entrepreneurs and visitors.

“We will see what the entrepreneurs and visitors can do to minimise the problems brought about by the market,” he said.