Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Brunei Town

11th hour dash

Azlan Othman & Lyna Mohamad

Bumper-to-bumper traffic was an all-too-familiar scene over the last few days as celebrants headed out at the 11th hour to shop for items to welcome Hari Raya Aidilfitri today.

Businesses enjoyed brisk sales, particularly those hosting festive exhibitions up until the final day of Ramadhan.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Fadzilah said, “The over-an-hour-long wait in traffic wasn’t too much of a hassle, considering I was able to get all the festive essentials.

“I made it a point to head to the shops right after work, which allowed me to reach home just before iftar. Although the government announced that the celebrations will be limited to close family members, it should not mean we can’t dress up to look our best for the first three days of Hari Raya,” he said.

Meanwhile, Syafiqah was caught off guard over the snarled-up traffic. Running with the assumption that celebrations were to be kept at a minimal, she had expected to see light traffic on the road.

Having returned from overseas weeks earlier, Syafiqah had no option but to brave the traffic in the hopes of locating attires for the first two days of the festivities.

She also lauded business complexes for providing the manpower to manage the flow of traffic in popular commercial areas.

Traffic builds in Gadong. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN & BAHYIAH BAKIR
Shoppers sift through items in search of the perfect fit

Senior citizen Hajah Norsia described the hours-long wait in traffic as “exhausting”, adding that her knee issues had exacerbated by the time they reached the mall.

She had initially taken along a walking stick. However, the pain meant that she had to instead be transported by wheelchair, a process she viewed as “troublesome”.

Like the countless others, Haji Rahman and family found themselves mired in heavy traffic built up along the Gadong commercial area, which eventually saw them having to “break our fast in the car.”

“For me, I only needed to secure ingredients for the meal I will be preparing for my family on the first day of Hari Raya. My wife and children had to grab a few items too.

“The lesson here is to complete your festive shopping well in advance, because it has become apparent that regardless of the scale of celebration allowed, all roads leading to the malls will be congested in the run up to the festivities,” he said.

At The Mall in Gadong, parked vehicles dotted the roadsides, with traffic moving at a snail’s pace. Similar scenes unfolded at Times Square, with shoppers taking full advantage of the final day to snap up Brunei Mega Sale discounts.

Rania, a student, said she was able to purchase a popular shawl at a Cities Square shop for BND15, heavily scaled down from the usual BND35 price tag.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur Jamal said, “Typically, some people opt to cross the border for their Hari Raya shopping. However, with the land borders still shut, they are shopping locally.”

“The busting Kiulap area should have more exits to ease traffic flow,” he said, adding that “the traffic there has been terrible, especially during weekend. This is further aggravated by last-minute shoppers”.