Petaling Street turns one hundred years old this year!
Over the decades, the famous Petaling Street has transformed into a huge market selling many types of merchandise and is a food haven for Malaysians and tourists.
Even so, it is increasingly obvious that Petaling Street seems to have lost its charm as a top tourist draw. Seeing rats scurry past drains and alleys when tucking into the dishes maybe nothing new for diners at Petaling Street but it is still rather foul. Some visitors have described these rodents to be bigger than a cat because they are so well fed. Apart from the rodents, the drains are in a repulsive condition too, with grease and garbage clogged inside.
The problem is increased by the wet market’s overflowing garbage bins, which are placed right at the entrance.
The current situation and condition is disturbing because Petaling Street is part of the DBKL Heritage Trail, which is being established alongside beautification efforts under the River of Live project.
In the past few years, NGOs involved in heritage preservation have also been conducting cultural walks and food tours around Petaling Street but cleanliness issues and poor maintenance are hampering plans to further grow this tourist destination.
“Petaling Street has lost its appeal,” said Yong Boo Ying, in her 60s, who used to work in the area. “I come here once in a while to attend activities organised by my clan association and visit some old friends, but frankly, it is a headache every time I am here. Apart from the horrendous traffic, this area is really filthy. Frankly, I do not have the appetite to eat here, although I must say the dishes prepared by the old-timers are still authentic. Who would want to eat next to rat-infested drains and rubbish circled by flies?” she asked.
Yong feels that the traders’ couldn’t-care-less attitude is to blame for the poor hygiene at the area.
“On one hand we see some people trying to make Petaling Street a better place by restoring old shophouses and establishing businesses that enhance the area’s character, but people here are not bothered about keeping their surroundings clean,” she added.
Hor Voon Seng, 39, a traveler from Singapore said the cleanliness of Petaling Street left a lot to be desired.
“While the area has its old-world charm and nice food, I just could not turn a blind eye to the dirty corners and back lanes. Something has to be done so that this place will not lose its appeal,” he said.
Chong, A shop operator in Jalan Sultan, said it was difficult for tenants and residents to keep public areas such as back alleys and pedestrian walkways clean.
“We hope the authorities can play a more effective role especially in cleaning up the clogged drains that have caused a lot of hygiene problems in the area,” he said.
Stakeholders agrees that more needs to be done in the popular location, considering that it is marking its 100th anniversary this June.
Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association chairman Datuk Ang Say Tee blamed the dirty conditions of Petaling Street on an illegal market run by immigrants in Jalan Sultan.
“They are the main culprits as the legitimate traders always make it a point to clean up the mess they leave behind as they have attended cleanliness courses organised by our association and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) over the past few years. But it is a different story with the immigrants’ market,” he said.
According to Ang, the market that operates from 3.00am to 10.00am daily, only had about 40 stalls when it started three years ago.
Now, the market selling mostly used goods, has a whopping 300 stalls that attract hordes of shoppers.
Ang also said that the association had brought up the issue with DBKL a few times but nothing has been done.
A previous report quoted a DBKL spokesman saying the unlicensed market was allowed to carry on as they had not received any complaints.
On the area’s cleanliness, Ang said the association had attended three meetings with DBKL in regards to the matter. Other agencies including Alam Flora, hotels, traders and establishments in the area have been roped in to solve the problem.
He said a major gotong-royong is too take place before the 100th anniversary celebration, with a grand banquet planned right in Petaling Street.
“Traders’ awareness on cleanliness has improved over the past few years following efforts by the association and DBKL to educate them.
“We have been holding gotong-royong for the past 10 years, two to three times annually,” Ang said, adding similar efforts were taking place in Bukit Bintang.