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Jakarta Post

Government wants traditional markets to remain open despite pandemic

  • Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 5, 2020   /   01:01 pm
Government wants traditional markets to remain open despite pandemic Two Indonesian vendors wear face masks as they wait for customers at a traditional market in Jakarta on March 19. (AFP/Adek Berry)

Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto has asked traditional markets across the country to remain open to prevent sellers from incurring losses caused by the government’s social restriction measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Sellers at traditional markets in 285 cities and regencies recently reported that their revenues had fallen 39 percent while retailers have seen a 90 percent drop in revenue, said the minister. As a result, some sellers have closed their shops, resulting in a 29 percent decline in the number of sellers at traditional markets.

Last year, more than 2.8 million sellers traded at over 15,600 markets across the country, according to data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS).

“We have to solve this as soon as possible so that small sellers, enterprises, farmers, fishermen and breeders who sell their products to the markets do not suffer further losses,” Agus, a National Awakening Party (PKB) politician, said in a statement released on Saturday.

Read also: Shop from Home program revives traditional markets affected by COVID-19

Customers have stopped going to markets to shop for groceries in compliance with the government’s social restrictions to contain the unfolding COVID-19 outbreak, which has infected more than 11,000 people nationwide.

Agus said markets could stay open while complying with health protocols and by offering online grocery shopping services like those in Jakarta. Markets could also split sellers into two groups so that they could take turns operating.

City-owned market operator PD Pasar Jaya, which manages more than 105,200 stalls at 153 markets across Jakarta, is facilitating online shopping by providing a list of sellers’ phone numbers on its website and social media accounts, allowing customers to directly contact sellers and have them deliver groceries via app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi).

House of Representatives Commission VI overseeing trade and small and medium enterprises (SME) agreed with the minister. Faisol Riza, the commission chairman from the PKB, said regional administrations could move some sellers to temporary markets in cleaner and more open spaces, such as parking lots, so that trading could continue to take place.

Read also: Salatiga opens traditional market with physical distancing requirements in place

“Commission VI wants traditional markets to continue operating but does not want them to become places where the coronavirus spreads,” Aria Bima, the commission’s vice chairman from the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), was quoted as saying in the same statement.

Therefore, the head of Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force, Doni Monardo, said his office would issue an edict to allow traditional markets to operate so long as vendors complied with health protocols, such as wearing masks and gloves and washing their hands regularly.