Making ends meet through the pandemic

Salleh sells dabai at his stall.

KUCHING: Small businesses are the hardest hitby the Covid-19 pandemic enveloping the country.  

Petty traders and hawkers are at the mercy of local folks to support their livelihood but competition from supermarkets and hypermarkets makes it even more difficult for them to generate income.

Bobby with his fresh vegetables.

Bobby Kimliang, 34, who sells vegetables at a stall in Medan Niaga Satok here, said although the pandemic has greatly affected his business, he still opens his stall without fail in order to make ends meet.

“I suffered a 50 percent loss due to Satok Market Cluster. When things started to get better, Covid-19 cases in Kuching suddenly began increasing which led to people fearing to go out to buy fresh goods,” the breadwinner of a family of three said.

Nonetheless, Bobby would still take the same amount of vegetables to sell daily, albeit of different varieties.

“The vegetables normally can be kept fresh for a maximum of two days in cold storage. However, if the vegetables are not sold within two days, I would just eat the vegetables with my family or give them away to my friends and neighbours,” he said.

Salleh Mostapa, a 62-year-old dabai seller expressed his frustration over the impact of Covid-19 on his life.

“Since the pandemic occurred, I have lost 75 percent of my business. Before, I could easily sell between 60 kg to 100 kg of dabai during its season,” he lamented.

Other than selling dabai, Salleh is also a fishmonger selling a variety of fishes including tuna, sea bass, mackerels, prawns, cockles among others.

Salleh sells dabai at his stall.

“Usually I would take 200kg of various fishes to sell here at Medan Niaga Satok. But due to the pandemic, I have to cut my supplies by half as I do not want to suffer more losses,” he said.

Salleh is hoping for financial help from the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) Sarawak. He also wished that at the very least, the authority would lower the price of the traders’ license so that it can lift a tad bit of their burden during this pandemic.