Vaccination programme brings ray of hope for Pekan Rabu traders

17/02/2021 06:14 PM

By Muhammad Adib Hakim Hasri

ALOR SETAR, Feb 17 -- Petty traders at the Pekan Rabu Complex here who have been hard-pressed by a scarcity of customers due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic since about a year ago are seeing a ray of hope now that the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) will get underway soon.

The complex used to be thronged with people especially on weekends and festive seasons but nowadays most of the traders there have to shake off boredom while waiting for the occasional customer.

But following the government announcement that the NCIP will begin on Feb 26, the traders are seeing new hope that it will be "business as usual" in a matter of time. 

One of the traders, Solehah Mohd Saad, 49, who sells clothing and songkok, said the complex heavily depended on out-of-state visitors but with the current COVID-19 situation in the country, the numbers had dwindled.

She said that she hoped the NCIP will change things and the people allowed interstate travel as this would be a big help to traders like her.

“If the government gives a chance the public to travel interstate, tourists from outside Kedah can come to buy things here, in fact Ramadan is not far away, so I hope this year will bring a new ray of hope for those of us trading here,” she said.

Ahmad Sulaiman Selamat, 59, a tailor there who has been struggling to make ends meet since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed in March last year, said he hoped the government will further relax COVID-19 prevention standard operating procedures (SOPs) and no longer enforce the MCO 2.0 that was introduced last month, once the NCIP is implemented.

He said that since the pandemic started, bookings from his customers became less and less and that he had to resort to digging into his reserves to stay afloat.

“When all have received the vaccine, I hope the government will give some leeway, we are really depending on the government, please allow interstate travel because businesses like ours depend a lot on customers from outside Kedah,” he said.

Clothes trader Suraya Abu Bakar, 40, who has also incurred losses since a year ago, is praying that the situation can return to normal as quickly as possible.

‘’My business is very dependent on visitors from outside the state. It is indeed difficult for me to continue my business without them. I only hope that the situation will improve after this,’’ she said.

The NCIP will be implemented in three phases from Feb 26 and targets to vaccinate 80 per cent of the population or 26.5 million people to achieve herd immunity. The vaccination will be provided free of charge.



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