PESHAWAR: The district administration on Wednesday arrested 60 drivers of public transport and sealed 12 marble factories over violations of the orders aimed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

According to a statement issued from the deputy commissioner’s office, the arrested persons were carrying passengers in taxis, pick-ups, mini buses and passenger coaches on various roads. The drivers were also fined.

Also, the district administration officials sealed 12 marble factories and arrested their owners for not adopting safety measures against Covid-19.

Peshawar deputy commissioner Mohammad Ali Asghar warned those found guilty of violating the government orders would face legal action.

However, Urban Transport Union Peshawar president Khan Zaman Afridi told Dawn that his association had nothing to do with the drivers violating the directives.

Traders involved in profiteering sent behind bars

He said majority of the people were facing financial issues but that did not mean they should put people’s lives at risk.

He asked the drivers of public transport to stay home to ensure their own safety as they might contract the deadly virus from the infected passengers.

In Upper Dir, the district administration arrested and fined profiteers, hoarders and violators of the lockdown in Sheringal tehsil.

On the directives of deputy commissioner Khalid Iqbal Khattak, assistant commissioner Mohammad Saqib Khan visited bazaars in Sheringal and Patrak and found many shopkeepers violating the official price list and hoarding items. Some traders were penalised for keeping the shops, not allowed to operate during the lockdown, open.

Four shopkeepers were sent behind bars, 10 were fined Rs50,000 and eight shops were sealed.

The assistant commissioner said the district administration won’t allow profiteering and hoarding.

Meanwhile, roads, bazaars, mosques, and other public places were washed with chlorinated water in Sheringal tehsil.

Also, deputy commissioner Khalid Iqbal Khattak along with Operational Commander Brig Mohammad Yasir Elahi visited the bazaars and closed the shops which were not allowed to remain open during the lockdown in Dir, Bibyawar, Darora and Wari bazaars.

In Mansehra, the district administration arrested six traders and fined several others during a crackdown on hoarders of wheat flour in the district.

“The traders were arrested and fined for creating artificial shortage of wheat flour and selling it at high price,” additional assistant commissioner Sundus Arshad Malik told reporters.

A team of the district administration, food department and police led by Ms Malik raided shops in the city, Khaki, Khawajgan and Barkund bazaars.

Ms Malik warned that the traders taking advantage of the lockdown won’t be spared.

“The crackdown will continue to ensure smooth supply of wheat flour at prices fixed by the district price control and review committee,” she said.

Meanwhile, the district administration restored the 67 subsidised wheat flour sales points.

District food controller Shad Mohammad Khan told reporters that these sales points were established during the recent flour crisis. He said wheat flour supply at Rs810 per 20kg bag would be ensured across the district.

In Battagram, soon after the lockdown was enforced across the province in order to control and slow down the spread of coronavirus, traders increased prices of food items.

Local Mohammad Irfan complained that price of 40kg wheat flour bag had been increased to Rs2,300 from Rs2,200 in just one day.

The consumers complained that rates of all pulses and other edible items had increased by Rs20 to Rs30 per kg.

They demanded of the district administration to check price hike.

When contacted, deputy commissioner Altaf Hussain said he was sending teams to the bazaars to check prices of essential items.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020