Violation of SOPs: ‘Selective’ action imperils lives of market-goers in Lahore

Published April 29, 2021
People ignore social distancing at a market in Lahore on April 28. - AP
People ignore social distancing at a market in Lahore on April 28. - AP

LAHORE: The city and police authorities seem selective in taking action against traders by allegedly ignoring the markets in major housing societies or in elite areas.

Most food outlets, shops and other business points are being run round the clock at Johar Town, Wapda Town, Valencia Town, Lake City, Bahria Town and many parts of Defence Housing Authority (DHA). There are a number of housing societies alongside Raiwind Road and Ferozepur Road where the traders and businessmen are partially implementing the Covid guidelines.

The Punjab government has issued strict directions to ensure uniform implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued in the wake of massive rise in Covid cases. Under the Covid guidelines notified by the Punjab government, there is complete ban on all activities after 6pm till Sehr and exemption is granted only to essential services including petrol pumps, medical stores/pharmacies and vaccination centres.

The blatant violation is risking the lives of residents of the areas having business activities and rush of people. Recently, the police held flag march on leading roads of the city including Jail Road, The Mall, Ferozepur Road and some parts of Gulberg where the law- enforcement agencies had the markets closed after 6pm. However, no such action was witnessed in Johar Town, on Raiwind Road and surroundings where Covid SOPs are yet to be implemented in letter and spirit.

The situation is also same in DHA’s some parts where the food outlets and other such business points operate well beyond 6pm. Many markets and shops are being run even till Sehr and the city and police authorities are ignoring them due to reasons best known to them.

The Lahore city is at the top among 36 districts of the Punjab which is reporting highest positivity rate and the business opportunities and free movement of the public in major parts of the city may aggravate the situation, warn medical experts. They say thousands of people from adjoining and other small districts visit the provincial capital daily for their livelihood. Such activities may cause massive spread of the virus to other parts of the province if not checked strictly.

The medical experts say the only remedy to curtail the virus has been preventive measures and implementation of the Covid guidelines.

There are also reports that many traders have allegedly bribed police to run their businesses.

On Wednesday, the flag march was held on Jail Road, Model Town Link Road, The Mall, Gulberg, Hall Road, Ferozepur Road, etc. Many shops and markets were closed down by the LEAs while many people were arrested for violating Covid guidelines.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2021

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