LAHORE: A number of plastic bag manufacturers, retailers and workers staged a massive protest on The Mall against the government move to impose a complete ban on plastic bags after six months, leaving over one million people jobless presently working in 8,000 factories in the province.

They also wondered over the government move for allowing manufacturing and sale of up to 50 micron single use shopping bags and later imposing a complete ban on all sorts after six months.

“The government is blatantly crushing us. In the light of recommendations of a committee, it has been decided to manufacture and sell up to 50 micron single use bags in future. But, later, we learnt that the government plans to allow this business for [just] next six months. It is really nonsense, as they, instead of regulating us as being done across the world, are planning to shut our businesses,” deplores Moazzam Rasheed, convener of plastic bags’ association’s special committee constituted to resolve the issue.

The protesters, while carrying placards and banners, chanted slogans against the government for doing nothing except to make the people jobless. “The core objective of the government seems to shut the country’s business and render the people jobless. So we will better request this government to pack up rather than doing such brutal steps,” an aggressive protester said.

According to another protester, the businessmen, vendors and workers never witnessed such a worst situation in the history of the country. “They are taking all businesses to a complete halt gradually. Is this mandate of this government,” he questioned.

The protesters warned the government to avoid taking anti-public steps, failing which they would have no option but to start countrywide agitation in near future. Later, the protesters concluded their protest after being assured by the environment department officials of not imposing a complete ban on the manufacture and sale of the agreed form of shopping bags.

On the other hand, the protest caused disruption in vehicular movement on The Mall for many hours, leaving link roads overburdened due to traffic diversions.

FAISALABAD: Manufacturers and shopkeepers of plastic shopping bags of Chiniot Gold Bazaar and other shops near the Clock Tower bazaars observed a shutter down strike on Tuesday.

The traders also unfurled banners inscribed with slogans against the decision and said it would leave scores of workers jobless and would also land traders in trouble who were attached with the sector for years. They said the government must take the stakeholders into confidence and provide them with some alternative way so that they could ensure livelihood for their families.

LCCI: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the government to address ‘genuine’ reservations of the bag manufacturers.

Talking to a group of businessmen, LCCI office-bearers led by President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said 10 countries had banned less than 30 micron single use shopping bags, 15 countries banned less than 50 micron single use shopping bags while no country in the world, except Kenya, banned the shopping bags and that damaged the economy of Kenya in terms of revenue, unemployment and closure of factories. Since Kenya has abundant jungles, therefore they can afford paper bags.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2019