The Jakarta Post
Tanah Abang Market in Central Jakarta is famous for its dense crowds of both local and foreign shoppers year-round, especially during the month of Ramadhan. And though the first and second floors of Tanah Abang's Blok G are regularly packed, the third floor is all but abandoned.
Last August, the city administration relocated street vendors from Jl. Kebon Jati, the road separating Blok G and the busier blocks A, B and F, to the Blok G third floor in an attempt to clean up the road and reduce traffic jams.
Almost one year after the relocation, however, many vendors have returned to the streets or left for other markets because of the lack of customers.
Both the city administration and the market's management have been trying to attract visitors to the market, yet the third floor has remained mostly empty.
According to the market's assistant manager for ventures and development, Warimin, out of the total 557 kiosks on the building's third floor, only 20 percent were currently occupied.
'Many buyers visited the third floor when the vendors were first relocated last year. However, that only lasted for a few months,' Warimin said on Monday.
He added that to draw buyers and sellers to Blok G, the management had offered door prizes such as cars and motorcycles for customers, and had guaranteed the vendors' security, cleanliness and comfort in the market.
According to Warimin, however, this has failed to stem the exodus of vendors. 'The reason the third floor lacks visitors is that it also lacks vendors,' he said.
A women's undergarments vendor, 61-year-old Harmaini, is one of the few who has remained despite the lack of customers.
'I don't want to lose my kiosk, that's why I still sell here even though there are barely any customers,' she said.
Currently, rent on the third floor is free, which enables the management to terminate the lease on any kiosk that fails to open on 10 consecutive days.
Harmaini said her sales had dropped sharply since she was relocated to the market, adding that every day her spending exceeded her income.
'I live near Taman Mini in East Jakarta. I spend Rp 20,000 [US$1.60] a day just for transportation. I also spend a minimum of Rp 15,000 a day to eat. However, I don't receive any income from selling here,' she said.
Harmaini added that she now received income only from participating in night markets as a pop-up shop.
'When I was a street vendor, I would get millions a day. Now I barely even get Rp 1,000 a day,' she said.
Another vendor, 25-year-old Saiman, who sold school uniforms, echoed Harmaini, adding that he only opened up his Blok G kiosk once a week so the market management would not terminate his lease.
'Every night I sell at a pop-up market in Jatinegara in East Jakarta so I can have a source of income,' he said.
Meanwhile, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Agency head Joko Kundaryo said that his agency had done its best to attract visitors to Blok G.
'We've played our part. We've installed escalators in Blok G, we're finishing a bridge linking Blok F and Blok G and we're providing the cars and motorcycles for the door prizes. Now, the vendors should do their part,' Joko said on Monday.
Since his agency could not force people to visit the market, the vendors had to offer something unique in order to attract buyers, he said.
'Don't sell something that can be found easily elsewhere.' (dwa)
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