Penang to take wrecking ball to illegal roadside shops

Backhoes clearing out a pawn shop and five other units at Jalan Tanjung Tokong yesterday. (Facebook pic courtesy of Che Tiepah)

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has issued a warning on illegal roadside shops, vowing to pull down such structures the same way it levelled a row of six shops in Tanjung Tokong yesterday.

State executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo said the Penang government had been lenient for many years, offering extensions and moratoriums to those operating illegally on federal and state government reserve land by the roads.

However, he said, the culture of impunity had to stop.

“You cannot just pick a five-foot way and do business there as you wish. You must understand that it is illegal to do so, and that it affects the community and safety in those places.”

In the case of Tanjung Tokong, he said, the shops had become “a nuisance” with motorists stopping on already-narrow roads.

“There have been many cases of accidents as well.

“I am very firm on the law. For decades, these shops have been there. Let this be a sign to those errant operators doing business on five-foot ways,” he told FMT when contacted.

Jagdeep said the abuse of state land would no longer be tolerated, adding that more illegal shops would be pulled down in the coming months.

“We have given many extensions of time and moratoriums, but some are taking advantage of this, thinking we will tolerate them.

“They should come and ask us, and we will recommend places where they can operate their businesses safely,” he said.