BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Street vendors will soon be subjected to a hawkers by-law, meant to regulate their activities and ensure that they adhere to requirements set by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“Under the [by-law], we will start imposing fines in accordance with the Minor Offences Act,” YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said during the Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday. He added that the move is hoped to address littering and safeguard public safety in general.

Although he did not disclose any further information, the minister said that according to a survey conducted, feedback from the public supported the introduction of a hawkers by-law.

“To make Bandar Seri Begawan vibrant, It is important that we enforce regulations to ensure cleanliness and establish an ecosystem that is conducive to a better quality of life,” he noted.

The Home Affairs minister also touched on revitalisation projects that will be implemented within the capital, primarily the Kampong Ayer Revitalisation Project, including the construction of 153 houses in Mukim Saba. Last year, the ministry set aside $45 million for upgrade works and revitalisation projects in Kg Ayer.

In the same session, a number of Legislative Council members put forth suggestions to further enliven the capital, with emphasis being put on revitalising central business districts within the Bandar Seri Begawan area.

Addressing  pedestrian safety concerns, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pendikar Alam Dato Paduka Seri Hj Hasrin Dato Paduka Hj Sabtu called for the development of infrastructure that will connect the two central business districts of Gadong and Kiulap.

“Though the two areas are near, the pedestrian walkways are not conducive or safe for those who need to cross the highway.”

In his response, YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar said that the matter has to be reviewed, adding that these proposals have to be based on provisions under the Bandar Seri Begawan Development Masterplan.

Meanwhile, YB Khairunnisa Hj Ash’ari suggested that to further enliven the Bandarku Ceria weekly event, a busking zone should be established.

“Of course, we should have guidelines for buskers to adhere to,” she said, adding that it should not just be for musical performers but for locals with talents in the creative arts including caricature artists.

Touching on the Bandarku Ceria initiative which was introduced in 2016, the minister said that although no official data has been compiled, it has greatly benefitted weekly vendors.

“We have not assessed how much they [operators] earn. But if we take into account how bicycle rental operators perform when the event was introduced three years ago in October 2016, by the sixth month, the first bicycle rental operator was able to break even,” he said, adding that similar businesses have also popped up to cash in on the weekly activity.

He shared that the Municipal Department is also currently advertising tenders for food truck services. These will operate every Sunday night and will be stationed at areas included within Bandarku Ceria.