‘PPPs could revive tamu Geraineka’

National 2 minutes, 35 seconds

BELAIT

A PUBLIC private partnership (PPP) could revive Mukim Liang’s $300,000 tamu Geraineka, which has been vacant for more than four years.

Village head of Lumut I and Belait district representative to the Legislative Council Yang Berhormat Hj Mohd Shafiee Ahmad said that several private businessmen have shown interest in the tamu, but said the right proposition has to be tabled before the stakeholders agree to any plans.

Geraineka – which has 11 stalls each sporting three steps to display fresh produce and another 10 for meat, poultry and seafood – has failed to take off since opening in 2010, despite the authorities issuing two batches of licences for vendors to operate.

The tamu is located on the opposite side of the road leading into the Sungai Liang Industrial Park (SPARK), and was built by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) as part of a community initiative when SPARK first opened.

YB Hj Mohd Shafiee also denied rumours that a deal had already been agreed for a private retailer to refurbish the tamu and build a supermarket at the location.

“There are several parties that are interested, however no deal has been made yet,” said the village head.

The tamu falls under the purview of the Belait District Office, with grassroots leaders also involved as stakeholders.

No study has been conducted into the reason behind the tamu’s failure to generate visitors, but anecdotal observations from villagers point to poor signage and a winding road as an entry point as drawbacks.

They also pointed out that a similarly sized market, also located opposite a main road in Telisai, Tutong, has managed to keep busy despite Geraineka's decline.

YB Hj Mohd Shafiee said that a partnership could see a private retailer take over the tamu and purchase local produce from the Mukim and other areas in the district before putting up the produce for sale.

“It could also be that the private party refurbishes the area, sets up their own shop, while we draw in local vendors again to see if they are interested in operating together,” he said.

Instead of selling the same products, parties could also use their collective leverage to entice a bigger number of customers to shop.

Judging by the patronage that eateries in Liang receive from those working in SPARK, Brunei LNG and nearby schools, YB Hj Mohd Shafiee said the opening of a restaurant could also spark a revival.

“If the private investor wants to set up a restaurant... those eating may also purchase their vegetables and groceries. And once there are a lot of customers eating in the area, then it is more likely to draw local vendors to come over and sell,” he said.

However the biggest development that Geraineka needs to contend with is the opening of the Telisai-Lumut highway, which was last announced by BEDB to be in April this year.

“The highway will by pass the market, unless those using the road take a nearby U-Turn shortly after the new highway ends back to the old road. How this could affect future plans needs to be looked into,” he said.

The Brunei Times