Sunday, September 29, 2013

Eyeing Datuk Ahmad A Talib opinion on Of bread makers and petrol stations

NO PLACE TO GO: Petronas should do more to help small-time food vendors, including bread producers, sell their products in highway petrol stations

 REST and recreation areas along our highways always offer a welcome respite. Imagine travelling from the capital to Penang on the North-South Expressway with no place to catch one's breath. It's unthinkable nowadays.
So we take short breaks. Tapah or Simpang Pulai rest areas can be a good stop to stretch our legs, freshen up a bit, have a cup of tea and stock up on fruits and some nuts. True believers of energy drinks will not fail to replenish their supply.
If going down to Johor Baru, stops at either Pagoh or Seremban can be a good break. For those who bring their own refreshments, a picnic at one of the wakaf or gazebos at these rest areas would be a real treat.
While the quality of our rest areas is not the main issue here, it would be good to have a few more rest areas. Sometimes, the distance between one rest area and another can be very far.
Look at the number of people packing them during festive or holiday seasons!
Perhaps, more rest areas can offer greater variety of foodstuff and services. A neck massage perhaps? Or reflexology?
But an item pointed out to me a few days ago needs a bit more scrutiny, I think. Not directly linked to rest areas but to the petrol stations located nearby.
There are allegations by small food manufacturers that they are being muscled out.
Specifically, by Petronas.
A few food vendors, in particular bread producers, have complained that they will soon not be allowed to place their bread in these petrol stations.
They are small producers, working with their own money and borrowed capital trying to break into the big time. Their products have gained acceptance and they hope to use this success as a springboard to bigger markets.
Recently, when they were told that they may no longer be allowed to place their products at the retail section of the stations, these producers cried foul.
In their place, products from bigger producers, including from overseas, are being displayed and sold.
The small-time local producers have no one to turn to. They've raised the matter with Petronas, whose response has been somewhat strange.
A newspaper report said these small local producers must register with Petronas to enable their products to be sold in Petronas' outlets. There is a proper agreement that must be adhered to, Petronas said. It could be that a few of them have not registered.
I think this makes sense. We don't want any Tom, Dick or Harry or Mat, Apu and Ah Seng selling their stuff without proper rules and conditions. We also don't want unhygienic food to be sold.
Therefore, proper registration is necessary.
The question is -- how come no one made any effort to register these long-time small producers? Oversight?
As a giant company, which is on the Fortune 500 list, Petronas should probably take another look at its policies on helping small local producers.
It's no skin off their nose if they were to do that. In fact, they certainly will be more appreciated if they were to do that.
Back to rest areas. Sometimes, when they are filled to the brim, travellers will flock to the petrol stations next door for their pit stops.
Rest areas and petrol stations make good combinations and therefore there should be more of them.

Read more: Of bread makers and petrol stations - Columnist - New Straits Times

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