Quiet marketplace an unusual sight

The usually crowded Serikin weekend market is quiet and stalls empty.

BAU: The border village of Serikin which is normally bustling on weekends was quiet today as no Indonesian traders were allowed to trade there yet due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Located 65km from Kuching, it is a marketplace where those trading there are mostly Indonesians selling their handicrafts, cloths, toys, carpets, jungle produce and many more.

The movement control order (MCO) has resulted in the temporary closure of the marketplace since March 18.

Although business sectors are allowed to operate as usual everywhere following stringent standard operation procedures (SOPs), nevertheless business in Serikin market has yet to resume.

A visit to the marketplace last weekend found that the place was very quiet — an unusual sight when there would usually be about 300 Indonesians trading there, with thousands of people visiting.

Sandra showing her handicraft products at her shop in Serikin.

A rattan handicraft entrepreneur, Sandra Trinata Kolerensius Sugeng, said currently only shops operated by locals are open for business but there are not many visitors from outside frequenting the marketplace.

Sandra said their business at the Serikin market was badly affected during the MCO as the market was closed and she still had to pay the salaries of some 30 of her home-based employees.

She said her company, which specialises in handicraft products, had stopped receiving and delivering orders soon after the enforcement of the MCO, and she had overhead costs of between RM20,000 and RM30,000 to bear.

“No new orders received, confirmed orders could not be delivered and payments are stuck,” she said, adding that prior to the MCO, she received a few orders, mostly rattan chairs from overseas and Peninsular Malaysia, but was unable to deliver them due to the lack of shipment services.

The company which began operating in August 2009, produces handicraft products such as kasah (rattan mat), rattan settee, rattan basket, rattan chair, rattan tray, and rattan juwah (rattan backpack).

“Some are sold locally while the rest are exported to Peninsular Malaysia, Europe and the United States,” said Sandra, who also runs a handicraft shop.

Sandra complained that even now her business is very slow and she has to depend on online marketing and orders, but she was relieved as she could now make deliveries to her clients.