Tungku Beach vendors face uncertain future

National 2 minutes, 14 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Tungku Beach vendors have expressed concern over their future as the Legislative Council (LegCO) meeting on Wednesday discussed discontinuing leisure and small business activities at the beach.

Minister of Development Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Hj Bahrin Abdullah said that vendors at Tungku Beach may be told to discontinue their businesses in the future as the Brunei Investment agency (BIA), which own the area, has new plans to develop the beach.

Most of the vendors interviewed by The Brunei Times at Tungku Beach yesterday were previously had businesses at Serasa Beach from where they were asked to make way for a $3.4 million beautification project which was completed in March.

Having moved to Tungku Beach, in search of new business opportunities, vendors – some who started two years ago – were worried about their livelihood if they were to be asked to move out again.

“This business is very crucial for me as neither my income nor my wife’s earning is sufficient,” an army personnel, Jim Ehirul Akob said. “We (my family) are just surviving on the income from this stall. We barely make $20 a week,” the 38-year-old said sitting at his stall selling used clothes. Jim Ehirul, who is diabetic, had many of his toes amputated last year and as a result he had to take early retirement.

“I receive pension of around $600 per month, and not much is left after paying bills and loans,” he said, adding he pays $400 per month car loan.

Jim Ehirul said that the authorities should waive the rent of the stall or at least make it affordable for low earning vendors like him.

Another stall owner Pg Norsalam Hj Salleh, 64, said she also wants better information and clarification from authorities and not just from a sign board which, according to her, was installed a few days ago.

“There is a sign board saying that some potential construction work will begin, but if they are looking to stop us from our business activities they should have informed us earlier,” the retiree said who has been selling used clothes at Tungku Beach for two years.

“If they had informed us earlier, we would have moved to elsewhere as it (the stall) is vital to us,” she said.

When asked whether she would venture into other businesses like food, she said that it would be very difficult as it would take a lot more money to start something else.

A vendor renting out ATVs, Hj Darip Kamar said the authorities must meet the Tungku Beach vendors and take their suggestions. “It had happened before when we were in Jerudong. Although our suggestions were sought, they were never implemented,” he said.

The Brunei Times