INDUSTRIALISTS from across the city said the production units were flooded with rainwater
causing losses worth billions of rupees. — Dawn
INDUSTRIALISTS from across the city said the production units were flooded with rainwater causing losses worth billions of rupees. — Dawn

KARACHI: Trading activities in Karachi especially wholesale and retail markets came to a halt on Thursday as shopkeepers could not pull up their shutters owing to devastating rains which started from 11am and continued throughout the day.

The city’s industrial output fell to 20-50 per cent of its total capacity as workers were absent from their respective units while many returned home after 2pm as rains flooded many areas and main arteries of the city.

Traders said the movement of goods from port to markets and up country and arrival of goods from up country had remained suspended on Thursday.

Business activities had resumed on Wednesday after the city was paralysed on Tuesday due to flooding.

“This is a disastrous situation, I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime,” said Zubair Motiwala, a key leader in the SITE Association of Industry.

“Everywhere there is only water, everywhere! There is nothing else, no power, machines have drowned, even those locations where we have never seen flooding in the last 40 years are today inundated.”

SITE area, one of the country’s largest industrial ones was shut altogether, he told Dawn.

“No production and no idea of the loss, it is too soon [to calculate],” he said. In his own factory, there were 18 inches of water, “and this despite the fact that we built a foot high water barrier using sand bags around the plant.” In one factory he said, the water height was eight feet.

All City Tajir Itehad General Secretary Ahmed Shamsi said by 5pm on Thursday, many shops in the old city areas were filled up with three to four feet of water but the situation got worse after 5pm as heavy thunderstorm and rains battered the city.He said traders in various markets were facing severe problems ever since the monsoon spell intensified in August.

Old city area markets feed the entire city and up country as bulk of imported finished and raw materials arrive from ports for onward distribution to the rest of the country, he added. The goods, following their arrival on ports are stored at go downs located on the M.T. Khan, I.I. Chundrigar and Maripur which are closer to the wholesale markets. He said traders have suffered huge inventory losses especially in old city area markets.

Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association Chairman Anis Majeed said around one feet of rain and sewerage water had entered Jodia Bazar shops due to heavy flooding at I. I. Chundrigar Road and City Court areas.

He said he could not share details on inventory losses at shops as markets would remain shut from Friday to Sunday. The situation regarding rain water at the go downs and warehouses situated 10kms away from Hawkesbay and Site Area from Jodia Bazar were under control but he said he cannot say anything with certainty since rain had intensified after 6pm.

He said old city areas had suffered inventory loss of Rs3-4 billion on Thursday alone as traders hold huge stocks at shops and nearby do downs which were inundated with rain water.

Traders would be able to check the situation at their shops and go downs on Monday in those areas which were sealed for security reasons for Ashura while other traders would try to ascertain the situation on Friday depending on rains and road conditions, he added.

Site Association of Industry President Suleman Chawla said only 25 per cent of labor arrived at units while night shifts were also cancelled owing to lack of staff.

F.B. Area Association of Trade and Industry President Abdullah Abid said industrial output decreased by almost 50pc while industrialists asked workers to go home after 2pm. He also said that night shifts were cancelled on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2020