Friday, 22 Jan 2021
HAILED as one of the oldest markets in Malaysia with its history dating back to the 1890s, Chowrasta Market in Penang today is as modern as any market you could find.
Originally a single-storey building, the present market is now divided into two floors selling fresh meat and vegetables on the first floor. The floor above are clothing, shoes and second-hand book stores.
The building also has a multi-storey car park for visitors.
Vegetable seller Soo Ree Hin, 72, started his business around 1970s and is one of the longest serving traders there.
“Although the place was quite worn down back then, I can still recall it was bustling.
“Those days, many of us were doing business along the roadsides on our three-wheeled vehicles or carts including myself.
“I was only in my teens back then. When the authorities came, we had to push our carts and run as many of us did not have a licence. That was in the 70s, ” he said when met at the market recently.
Soo said in the later years, a lot of the roadside vendors were required to apply for a licence and a spot to operate inside the market building.
“Throughout the decades, this market has gone through a lot of renovations and makeovers.
“Now, the market is much cleaner and less congested.
“We have a proper and well-maintained space to run our business, ” he added.
Septuagenarian Lily Chia, 73, said she had been patronising the market since she was young.
“I remember coming here with my grandmother in the early years. The place was dirty, wet and the roads were not this well-maintained then.
“But at that time, the marketplace was very crowded and lively.
“Now, everything is very organised, from the wet section to the dry food and clothing section.
“There is even a multi-storey car park, which makes things much easier for market-goers, ” she said.
In the 1890s, the market started out as a single-storey building before it was turned into a three-storey building in the 1960s.
In 2013, it underwent a RM13.5mil massive renovation project which was completed in 2017 with 120 parking spaces.
After the makeover, the building’s environmental-friendly design was accorded the silver Green Building Index rating, making it the first market to be GBI certified.