Panaga Housing needs retail site

National 2 minutes, 12 seconds

BELAIT

A RETAIL site needs to be constructed along the lagoon at the Panaga National Housing Scheme to house the growing number of home-based businesses in the area, grassroots leaders and residents said.

Since residents moved into the National Housing Scheme in 2011, home-based businesses have begun to thrive amongst the 2,000 household community, with stalls selling cooked food and fresh produce mushrooming along the roadside or in the homes’ front porches or terraces.

A car wash has also opened in the area, while racing control (RC) boat enthusiasts take to the lagoon – located near the housing scheme's main entrance from Jalan Tengah - on weekends for recreation.

The Penghulu of Seria Hj Jamail Hj Linap said the bustling business activity in the area is a welcome development, but a dedicated retail spot was needed for the home-based businesses to operate safely and thrive commercially.

“It is a good initiative for members of the community to come up with business ventures, but safety is a concern when you have cars stopping by the side of access roads,” said Hj Jamail.

Legitimacy is a problem too, he said, as most have not applied for proper registration and business license to operate.

“If they were to be housed in one site, they could be monitored more easily and do business safely and legitimately, drawing more customers not just from Panaga, but elsewhere from the district,” said the Penghulu.

Hj Hassan Tuah, who is running to be the Panaga National Housing Scheme's first village head, stressed that a a common business site would allow these small, first-time business owners to try their hand in a more professional setting.

“If these small businesses are thriving, in the long-term, they would want to progress, instead of just operating along the roadside. And the lagoon is a scenic setting that is good for business,” said Hj Hassan, who is also the chairperson of Panaga's Neighbourhood Watch.

RC boat enthusiasts, who have built a small jetty-like dock in front of the lagoon out of woods, are also in support of the idea for a retail site. “It would be great for the community to have a retail and recreation site all rolled into one,” said a resident who asked to be named as Muaz.

Several roadside vendors said the site would be a “sure fire success”, given that it serves a concentrated area with 2,000 homes. “The houses here are more compact, so the area and community is less spread out than other national housing schemes, which means everyone is within walking distance of the lagoon,” said Matali Hj Amir, who sells Nasi Katok and fried fritters.

The Brunei Times