Ramadhan bazaar goes online this year

Lyna Mohamad

In less than two weeks, Muslims worldwide will begin the dawn to dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadhan. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) announced that the Ramadhan bazaar, looked forward to by everyone in the country, will not take place this year as part of a precautionary measure and to prevent large crowds from gathering.

Instead, the government has set up an online portal for Ramadhan vendors to conduct business on this platform with micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) encouraged to provide delivery services.

Several vendors participating in the Online Bazaar Ramadhan, created about two weeks ago, applauded the initiative which will help MSMEs carry out businesses offering food and drinks to break the fast or Sungkai.

Kustina Wati binti Moksin of TSK Kitchen said she was happy that there is a platform to carry out the Ramadhan stalls although this time it is online.

She said this will help food businesses to operate during the fasting month.

She said it will make it easier for customers to choose food items at their fingertips without having to queue up or having to walk around the stalls.

There will be a lot of competition as temptations will be many. However observing food safety and hygiene are a must when offering the food items, she said.

Kustina ventured into the food business four years ago doing online orders for frozen food items, which has successfully grown.

Lyeiralegacy’s meal preparation. PHOTOS: LYNA MOHAMAD
Haji Muhammad Ihsan bin Haji Iring of Ihsan Rotisserie operates a stall at the Gadong Night Market
TSK Kitchen staff arranging food

She pointed out that as someone dealing with food, she keeps in mind that the food prepared by her must be as hygienic as what she prepares for her family, ensuring that she and her helpers practice good hygiene, particularly with the COVID-19 outbreak.

“As a Muslim, I believe that regardless of whether selling at stalls or online, our rezeki will not be cut off as long as we are confident, grateful and work hard.”

Mimit of Bigbelly Kitchen feels the same. She stressed that whichever platform one uses if Allah the Almighty says it is your sustenance then it will be.

“We don’t know whether we have the rezeki unless we are confident and bold to take the move and face the challenges or competitions. I think the setting up of the online Ramadhan bazaar is a good move as it will be safer for both the food operator and customers as we will not be having close contacts and customers need not walk around in crowded places to get their food to break the fast,” she said.

Mimit has never participated in any bazaar or food stalls as her food business started at the end of February this year through an online platform.

She is familiar with the flow and is yet to see how it will be during the fasting month.

Looking forward to her first experience in the food business during the fasting month, Mimit said Bigbelly Kitchen will offer delivery services but is still in the midst of setting their time of deliveries with afternoon hours in mind and charges will depend on the area.

Rafiuddin bin Roslan of Satay Kitani noted it will not be as cheerful as the previous Ramadhan.

“However it is something that must be received positively as it concerns not only the safety of food operators but also customers. We must be grateful for the setting up of the online Ramadhan bazaar platform as an alternative for food businesses to earn an income during the fasting month.”

Satay Kitani has participated in Ramadhan bazaar activities in the Rimba area every Ramadhan.

Aini Lamat from Tutong, meanwhile, noted that the online platform is a good initiative.

This initiative will help the local MSMEs to earn money, especially those who solely rely on business activities, she said.

Her mother, who earns a living by participating in the weekly Tamu Tutong is also glad and grateful to hear about the initiative as following the outbreak, the tamu activity has been temporarily stopped. She will join her daughter’s online business during the fasting month.

Perusahaan ZAJ has been in the local food industry since 1997 and over the years has received an encouraging response from customers.

They are positive that the business will flourish since they have already received orders even before the start of Ramadhan.

“It is going to be a different experience as it has never been done before. Yet we Bruneians are not new to the idea of deliveries and meet-points of some business,” said Haji Muhammad Ihsan bin Haji Iring of Ihsan Rotisserie who operates a stall at the Gadong Night Market.

He has been in this industry for 15 years following his parents’ footstep, since the original night market days during the tent and generator era.

“I am not really sure how popular my stall is but I do have a loyal customer base. Only time can tell whether the sales will have a positive or negative impact.”

Haji Muhammad Ihsan did participate in Ramadhan bazaar several years back but stopped due to the lack of staff and other commitments.

Mohammad Refdie of Lyeiralegacy believes it is a good idea, but said there are more vendors compared to the number of customers, which he hopes will pick up once the fasting month begins.

Lyeiralegacy used to participate in the Ramadhan bazaar with a stall at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium car park area but stopped since 2005.

They will join this year through the outline platform offering their signature dish Nasi Kerabu.

He added that Lyeiralegacy also gives priority to hygiene and safety, focussing on cleanliness and fresh ingredients.