M'sian traders feel shortchanged

News Desk in Kota Baru/The Star
Asia News Network

Kota Baru (The Star/ANN) - Zahari Othman, 53, started his restaurant with big dreams, ploughing a lot of money into his business and renting a shoplot in Lembah Sireh for 2,000 ringgit (US$645) a month. Three years later, he realised he had gone in blind. Business has been poor.

"Before I rented this place I was impressed with the promise of massive development.

"But after sometime, I realised that nothing is happening with Kelantan River Bank Development project except for the hypermarket, main bus station and some shoplots.

"Those who visit the hypermarket will eat there.

"I really wonder when the promised infrastructure will come and help improve my business," said Zahari, whose restaurant is at the ground floor of a three-storey shoplot.

There are many others like him who feel shortchanged after buying or renting the expensive shoplots with the promise by the developer to build the integrated infrastructure that promised 2,400 shop-offices, a hotel, a golf course, luxury apartments and residential houses.

Now, the business community and people within the Lembah Sireh main business centre that began seven years ago doubt that the whole project can be completed by 2015.

A businessman who manages a locksmith booth at the hypermarket, Nik Mohd Tarmizi, 25, said business was slow and people only frequent the hypermarket.

"This area is simply dead after the hypermarket closes by 10pm. It is deserted at night because people have no reason to come here except to shop at the hypermarket.

Hypermarket patron Rosilawati Yaacob, 38, from Bachok about 30km from here, said the hypermarket was the only reason for her to visit the area.

"Apart from the shoplots, people come here to buy textile. Most of them are from the private medical college and Mara Polytechnic College. Apart from that, there is nothing else," she said.

Both the medical college and the polytechnic operate out of the shoplots.

Visitor Ramli Ahmad, 45, was disappointed with the infrastructure in the area.

"The only attraction for me here is a floating restaurant that is well-lit at night. The rest of the area, including the shoplots, are closed by 10pm.

"I believe people do not come here except to buy daily produce at the hypermarket," he said.