The hawkers of Tanjung Aru Beach Food Court have urged the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) to conduct a formal dialogue with them before their impending eviction from the premises. This is to address the recent notice that the hawkers received on December 29 last year when they were asked to move out and settle any remaining debts before February 28.
The hawkers wish to have a proper dialogue with Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai and Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah to explain to them "what really is going onâ€.
It is understood the hawkers will be given a new place to conduct their business, which is at Anjung Selera in Tanjung Lipat. However, this proposal did not rest well with them as they claimed that the Anjung Selera was far worse than their old place.
The hawkers were saddened by the fact that both the DBKK and the Tanjung Aru assemblyman, as well as other local authorities, have failed to conduct a proper dialogue with them.
"We want them to explain to us what is going on. We want it to be in black and white" said one of the hawkers when met by reporters on Wednesday, 21 February.
The Tanjung Aru Beach has been a hotspot for both locals and tourists for decades. It is well known for its sunset views and its street food.
However, some have claimed that, due to the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project, the fate of the local hawkers and the food court itself hangs in the balance.
According to the hawkers, relevant authorities had previously conducted dialogues to address the eviction. However, the hawkers were not properly informed and as a result only a small number of them showed up for the dialogue.
Salasiah, who is one of the hawkers in Tanjung Aru, has made it clear that she will not move out no matter what happens. She claimed that the proposed area at Tanjung Lipat is far worse as it is not disabled person friendly and the place is prone to flood.
Lamdin Haja, a hawker who has been in Tanjung Aru since 1976, said he was puzzled to see how much had changed since the Berjaya era.
"During former chief minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh's reign, hawkers at Tanjung Aru only had to pay RM60 per month for fees. Now, hawkers are required to pay RM571 per month, and that does not even include electricity or water bills" Lamdin recalled.
"All of us refuse to move from here. If they want to take the building down, then go ahead" he added.
Aling, a hawker who is believed to have one of the best Avacado juices in town, opined that there was no need for them to move out at all.
"They should just refurbish this place and make it cleaner. They should add more facilities here. After all, this place is a tourist attraction.â€
The hawkers were met during a press conference with Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) vice-president cum Likas Assemblyman Junz Wong.
"Most of them had been around for up to 30 to 40 years. Today, in this press conference, they wish to tell the government that they refuse to move from Tanjung Aru" Junz said.
According to Junz, the first official notice was given to the hawkers in early 2016.
"Before this, the hawkers were told to move to a new place (Anjung Selera, Tanjung Lipat). They were made to understand that the new place would have better facilities. However, this is not the case as the new place is even worse. It is much smaller, the tables are smaller and there is not enough parking space" Junz said.
Even if these hawkers must be evicted from the Tanjung Aru Food Court, they should be given ample time, at least until after the Hari Raya holidays, Junz stressed.
Since the new proposed food court is situated in his constituency, Junz said the issue was now a matter of concern for him.
Junz asserted that the DBKK should review the decision and disclose the actual plan to the hawkers.