Friday, 26 September 2014

Persiaran Bayan Indah

I really can't remember what brought me down to the south-eastern side of the island recently but I was early for an appointment (whatever it was) and I decided to stop by that stretch of road known as Persiaran Bayan Indah.

There is this beach that runs the whole length of this road and beyond - from the island end of the Penang Bridge till the Bayan Lepas free industrial zone - but this particular stretch is infested with several seafood restaurants which are possibly illegal and which the authorities may have a headache trying to clear up due to political reasons.

Anyway, it was morning when I stopped my car and wandered down to the beach. It was low tide. I noticed some people waddling ankle deep or knee deep in the sea water. Some were busily digging up the sand while others were walking about with a bucket in hand or engrossed in picking things out from the sand bed.

I walked over to see what they were doing. Apparently, they come here every morning to ferret out the siput lala from the sand. The brief time that I was there, I didn't see that much of this sea snail in their pails and I doubt whether they could dig out much daily.

But I do remember that in my youth, my family used to go to the Gurney Drive beach, when there was still a respectable beach, and came home with a reasonable amount of siput lala which we would then steam with salt and eat with much gusto. But that was in the past.

Today, the siput lala had all but disappeared from the dining table and these few people are those that ever bothered to dig them up from the sand.

So okay, these are some of the stalls that are located on Persiaran Bayan Indah. How many of these are legal and how many are illegal? If you ask me, I would dare say that none of them are legal.

They were probably set up as temporary stalls and when the authorities took no notice of them, they became bolder and erected permanent structures. And then when people started eating at these places and the stalls became popular and the businesses entrenched, the authorities could no longer evict them when they (the authorities) finally woke up and decided to take action.

This is a common tale all over the country. When authorities close their eyes to the initial set-up for whatever reason, they unleash a monster that has taken root. But I will be happy to be proven wrong if someone tells me that the businesses here have legitimate licences, including clearance from the health department, to operate. Nobody would want to come down sick from food poisoning.

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