Market operator brings
Tanah Abang back to life

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city market operator has agreed to put the power back on and restore the water supply to traders in Blocks B to E of Tanah Abang market, Central Jakarta, after talking with the traders' association Tuesday.

""We went to the House of Representative this afternoon and asked lawmakers to mediate in our talks with PD Pasar Jaya,"" Yasril Umar, deputy secretary of the Tanah Abang traders' association, told The Jakarta Post.

PD Pasar Jaya, the market operator, shut down the power and stopped the water supply Monday as the deadline approached for the eviction of some two thousand traders from the blocks in the biggest textile and garment market in Southeast Asia.

The market operator wants them out so the blocks can be renovated.

The traders have been offered retail space on the fifth to seventh floors of Block A -- which have already been renovated -- but many of them are reluctant to move there, saying the location is not strategic and the new service fee too high.

Even though the market operator shut down the power, many vendors had continued to run their businesses in their old kiosks, using emergency lamps or candles.

""We don't want to move until we reach a deal with the market operator,"" Yasril said.

The traders have demanded that the market operator provide them with spaces on the same floor they were on in the old blocks, at an affordable price.

""We are refusing to move because they want to put us on the upper floors, which are not suitable for doing business,"" Yasril said.

Traders in the old blocks had the right to use the kiosks for 20 years and only paid between Rp 50 million to Rp 100 million annually for a kiosk, while the service fee was between Rp 300,000 and Rp 400,000, Yasril said.

In the fully-air conditioned Block A, the rental fee for a kiosk is between Rp 75 million and Rp 175 million, while the monthly service fee is Rp 1 million.

The renovation of Block A started at the end of 2003. The building now boasts modern facilities like escalators.

Another trader, Siti Muliani, however, said that most of their customers were from outside Jakarta and were not accustomed to using such things as elevators and escalators.

""They feel more comfortable shopping in a more traditional environment,"" she said.

""With modern facilities like this, we have to increase the price of our merchandise. This is not good for our business because, in the current situation, people's purchasing power is low,"" she added.

The traders are hopeful of reaching a deal with the market operator soon, so they can run their businesses in peace.

Meanwhile, Sonny Soenarso, the head of PD Pasar Jaya's service division, was quoted by Antara as saying the traders had nothing to worry about because their loyal customers would seek them out, no matter where they were.

He said the market operator has provided them with 2,244 new kiosks in Block A.

All of the kiosks are in good condition and the vendors can use them for free for the first few months, he said. (05)

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