A Makeover for Batu Lanchang Market


Renovation works are ongoing for one of the island’s unique markets.

When one thinks of Batu Lanchang, its famous market comes to mind. Batu Lanchang Market opened for business in 1986, and was inaugurated in July the same year by the then prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In the beginning, the market was open throughout the day, but it was not a success because most traders were already operating in other markets or places in the morning. Operating hours thus shifted to the afternoon till late evening, making it one of only two afternoon markets on the island. (The other is the Cecil Street Market.)

The market is thus ideal for those who wish to get fresh produce after working hours, and is therefore visited both by people living close by and by many from neighbouring areas.

It is clearly a well-organised market. The indoor wet market is housed on the ground floor of the two-storey complex, and is equipped with amenities such as a community hall and a library. The hall is often rented out as a badminton court, and sometimes for wedding banquets.

According to Poh Chai Lee, a biscuit trader who is also deputy president of the Batu Lanchang Market Hawkers and Traders Association since its formation in 1988, the market has about 296 traders, 241 stalls and almost 19 types of businesses selling general merchandise and produce such as fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits and a separate non-halal section.

General merchandise and produce are sold at Batu Lanchang Market.

“Compared to Jelutong Market, there are fewer traders here, but the market nonetheless fulfils customers’ needs,” says Poh. “Also, the Batu Lanchang food complex, which has 156 hawker stalls selling an array of local food, is well situated. The complex opens from noon till evening too, and is famous for multicultural cuisines such as Nyonya kuih, char koay kak, chee cheong fan, ice kacang, mee rebus and pasembur.”

The 32-year-old building is currently being renovated, with improvements to its wiring system and washroom, and welcome additions such as wheelchair ramps, letter boxes for the vendors, a lift and air-conditioning for the community hall, says Danny Law, state assemblyman of Batu Lanchang at the time of writing.

According to Law, upgrading the building costs about RM3.3mil. Major structural repair works following damages to its main pillars are being carried out; the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) had to temporarily relocate the traders, while some traders chose to take a break.

The MBPP also installed a Bio-Regen Instant Food Conversion Unit at the cost of RM18,800, which converts food waste into liquid fertiliser and can handle up to 300kg of waste a day. It is one of the council’s initiatives in tackling food waste and pest problems, and has helped the council reduce daily domestic waste collection from 650 tonnes to 520 tonnes.1

Brought into Penang by Soh Yew Aun, the Bio-Regen Instant Food Conversion Unit consists of a two-motor system to support the grinder. As the food is ground, it is inoculated with bacteria and then pumped into a 1,000-litre tank; the number of tanks varies depending on the size of the market. The waste is then transported to a factory, where it goes through a fermentation process before being sold as liquid soil enhancer.2

For now, council workers run the machine, which needs to be kept in a clean area. The traders are required to send their waste to the collection area – this is a good way to inculcate waste segregation as well, and is aligned with the government’s zero waste campaign.

“Batu Lanchang Market has been serving the neighbourhood for as long as I can remember,” says Poh. “The renovations do give the market new life, especially with all the upgrades to the facilities,” says the 65-year-old, who has spent half of his life working at the market.

1www.thestar.com.my/news/community/2013/09/30/food-waste-not-going-to-waste. 2www.penangmonthly.com/article.aspx?pageid=2824&name=penang_on_the_verge_of_a_revolution_in_waste_management.

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