New Tamu Kianggeh opens today

National 2 minutes, 33 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE newly-minted Tamu Kianggeh Complex will begin operations today after vendors won a months-long battle to prevent the move of the historic market to Gadong.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Municipal Department confirmed that the new open-air market will be open for business from 6am to 6pm daily.

The new complex – which is located five minutes from the original market, behind the Wisma Ali Akbar building – comprises eight blocks over a total area of 4,450 square metres and can accommodate 313 stalls.

Five blocks, or 147 stalls, will be reserved for daily vendors, while three blocks, comprising 164 stalls, will be reserved for weekend vendors.

Additional facilities include a management office, police post, public seating area, prayer rooms, public toilets, rubbish disposal hut, boat dock, and a paid parking area that can hold 117 cars.

“The Municipal Department sincerely hopes that the Tamu Kianggeh Complex will become an attraction that is able to meet the needs of vendors, customers and caretakers,” the department said yesterday.

Vendors at Tamu Kianggeh have been embroiled in a months-long dispute with municipal authorities, who wanted to clear the market site and move sellers to the Gadong market. Among the reasons cited were the market’s lack of cleanliness and proximity to a Muslim cemetery.

Tamu Kianggeh’s long-time stall-owners protested the move, saying many of them had been doing business there for generations serving the Kampong Ayer community.

The story of their plight – which was originally broken by The Brunei Times in December – garnered considerable attention on social media, with citizens voicing support for the vendors and for the need to preserve the cultural heritage of the capital.

In February, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, paid a surprise visit to the market where the vendors expressed their desire to remain at Tamu Kianggeh or move to a location near the current site.

Over the past two months, contractors have quietly been working on building a new open-air market facility in the capital.

Alhamdulillah, the people here were very happy when His Majesty visited us and listened to our concerns,” said Hjh Mariam Muhammad, a 71-year-old vendor at Tamu Kianggeh.

Originally from Junjongan, Hjh Mariam first opened her vegetable stall with her late husband in the early 80’s after she resigned from her job in the private sector.

“Most of the vendors reside in Kampong Ayer, so it is more convenient for them to get to their stalls at Tamu Kianggeh by boat,” she said, adding that transportation and logistics would have proven more difficult if the vendors were relocated further in-land.

She added that there is too much nostalgia and sentimental value for her to part with Tamu Kianggeh.

“The name Tamu Kianggeh is already well known to many. The public and the vendors have been so connected to Tamu Kianggeh for many generations.”

She added that because the tamu is located in Bandar, many tourists flock to the market for its quirky and unique character. — Additional reporting by Bahrum Ali

The Brunei Times