Once a thriving spot in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, the food court at Section 14 market complex in Jalan 14/20 is now quiet with a higher number of stalls closed than open.
Tan Lai Seng, 51, whose mother started her drinks stall there in 1998, gave an insight into the sad state of affairs.
He said although the stall units were closed, not all were unoccupied.
“Due to low rental, some people rent the units to use as storage space.
“There are also those who open only three days a week as they are under no pressure to achieve high sales,” he said.
StarMetro checked out Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) elicencing website recently and found only seven lots were available for rent to sell food and beverages at the food court.
One lot was on the first floor and six on the ground level.
Drinks seller Chia Tee Yuen and wife Yap Sheet Chan have been forced to stop selling their signature ais kacang due to lack of customers.
Rental was RM200 for an upstairs lot and RM270 for a ground-floor unit.
However, during a morning visit on Sept 25, StarMetro found 51 units on the upper and lower floors shuttered, more than the seven vacant lots stated in the MBPJ website.
A nasi campur seller, who wanted to remain anonymous, said this situation had been going on for at least a decade.
The closed lots had caused the number of customers to dwindle, he said, adding that this in turn had discouraged many hawkers from operating at the premises.
Most would start operations only to close within a year.
Laila (right) having lunch with colleagues at the food court.
Laila Daee Ina Rusman, 34, who often had lunch at the food court, said the reasonable prices kept her coming back.
“I hope to see more shops open in the future to give diners some variety,” said the body care products supplier.
Malaysian Institute of Property and Facility Managers president Ishak Ismail, 55, said, “A food court that has so many lots closed defeats the purpose of offering affordable food.
“It reflects badly on the local council that things have come to such a state despite the food court being in a thriving commercial area.”
Ishak stressed the need for strict enforcement to ensure operators followed business hours and also used their units for the intended purpose.
He proposed that those who chose to misuse the facility for storage must pay a penalty or have their tenancy terminated.
Ishak said the council should think of new ways to generate income apart from the low rental it was charging.
MBPJ has said it would issue a statement on the matter in due time.