Enlivening the capital

Lyna Mohammad

Beginning January 1, the Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) Municipal Department initiated a food truck programme along the popular spot for recreational activities in Jalan Residency to enliven the city centre.

Located in the empty space between the Brunei Arts and Handicraft Centre and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha (RIPAHS) Bridge facing the scenic water village, the food truck programme is on trial until March.

For a start, the municipal department has given permits to five food truck operators, with each given a space equivalent to two parking spots to operate daily from 4-8pm.

The move piqued my interest so I headed there to talk with to the vendors.

Syarikat Al-Taib – Greenwheel Food Truck Manager Mohd Izan Azwan bin Mohd Yayha expressed appreciation to the municipal department for the support and the move reflected creativity and innovation in line with the rapid change of time.

“I believe our presence here adds value to the existing infrastructure and will provide more life to the city’s atmosphere, particularly in the evenings, by drawing domestic and international tourists,” he said.

Food trucks and customers at the recreational area. PHOTOS: LYNA MOHAMAD
ABOVE & BELOW: Pengiran Shahminan bin Pengiran Haji Besar; and Abdul Mutalib bin Haji Yahya at their food trucks

Mohd Izan shared that he opened a food truck business in last May, starting with popular kolo mee and nasi ayam penyet. However, with the new location, he decided to expands his menu to shawarma, kebab, roti John, lok lok and mango shake.

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected his live-cooking business. In an attempt to bounce back from the losses, he had set up his food truck in popular places such as beaches.

The current spot at Jalan Residency has turned out to be boon for the business.

Responses have been encouraging, not only from individuals engaging in fitness activities but also passers-by strolling along the waterfront.

Another operator, Suria binti Haji Muhammad Hussein, expressed her gratitude to the municipal department for the opportunity. The boost to her business has helped to ease the financial burden of paying for the food truck.

“It is a good move by the government to provide a platform for food truck operators as not only does it give us the opportunity to run our business legally, but it also create buzz in the area.”

Suria added that her family began selling cold chocolate drinks two months ago using a stop-go method. They settled on a fixed location since January 1, following the provision by the municipal department for food truck activities in the area.

“Since then, the feedback has been encouraging, Alhamdulillah.”

Meanwhile, owner of Bro Long Abdul Mutalib bin Haji Yahya also applauded the move by the municipal department.

“This fired up our spirit to get back on our feet and resumed our business that was halted due to the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak. We have been in business for about five years and chose this line of business because we can move between strategic spots and Alhamdulillah business have been promising and it is good to see a new atmosphere at a popular spot.”

The owner shared that it was initially difficult to obtain a permit and find a strategic place to run the business.

While there were places for rent, they tended to be too expensive for a small business, he added.

Abdul Mutalib expressed his gratitude for having a spot along Jalan Residensy as it is spacious enough for customers to practise social distancing while waiting for their orders.

Another vendor sharing his views was Pengiran Shahminan bin Pengiran Haji Besar, who applauded the municipal department for providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs to generate income, particularly during the Endemic Phase.

“I ventured into this food truck business less than two months ago, and it has been an interesting journey. Of course there have been challenges along the way but I am confident that this will be a successful business, Insya Allah. “Responses from visitors have been encouraging in the past few days and many of them welcome the presence of food trucks, especially those who frequent with their children and family,” added Pengiran Shahminan.

The vendors are participating on a three-month trial basis without any fees. Operators are only required to have healthy, fully vaccinated workers that maintain cleanliness of the area.