PESHAWAR: The unions of traders including Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Markazi Tanzeem-i-Tajran Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry have rejected lockdown from May 8 to May 16 and demanded of federal government to review the decision.

In their separate meetings here on Monday, the trader leaders vowed to follow standard operating procedure (SOP) as per government decision to control spread of coranavirus.

They asked the government to withdraw the notification because the restrictions regarding timing of markets caused crowds in the bazaars.

They said that before the announcement of fresh restrictions, there was no crowd in the bazaars.

Leaders of businessmen warn they will launch organised protest if govt does not review decision

Now all people know that they will be unable to have time for Eid shopping so they overcrowd the markets for shopping.

Markazi Tanzeem-i-Tajran president Malik Meher Ilahi told Dawn that Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in a meeting had recently assured the traders that the lockdown would be imposed only at tourist spots during Eid holidays to contain spread of Covid-19.

The chief minister, he said, had promised to take traders on board before announcing any fresh restrictions. However, the government took unilateral decision, which caused serious unrest among the traders, he added.

Mr Ilahi said that the lockdown would increase poverty rate and subsequently cause increase in street crimes. “I request the government to fulfil its pledge of letting the traders work without any restrictions of timing till Chand Raat,” he said.

Similarly, Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) announced to support the traders in their protest against the government’s decision of imposing a complete lockdown from May 8 to May 16. SCCI described the restrictions tantamount to economic murder of traders.

“A complete lockdown is unaffordable for the people as they have already been facing financial crisis owing to the restrictions imposed by the government to control the pandemic for the past over one year,” SCCI president Sherbaz Bilour told a delegation of traders here on Monday.

He urged the government to withdraw the notification issued regarding imposition of complete lockdown across the province. He said that the weeklong closure of business activities would push the coronavirus-affected businesses and economy towards collapse.

“The anti-business policies of the government have brought economic stagnation. These policies have badly affected trade, industrial, import and export activities,” said Mr Bilour.

He said that government multiplied miseries of traders instead of giving relief to them. He added there was no justification for imposing a complete lockdown during the last week of Ramazan.

Mr Bilour urged the government to immediately withdraw the notification regarding the complete lockdown otherwise traders would launch an organised protest campaign across the province.

Peshawar Traders Alliance president Mujeebur Rehman, Traders Alliance Federation president Ghulam Bilal Javed and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice president Zahid Shah also demanded withdrawal of the decision.

The local shopkeepers have also criticised the authorities for imposing lockdown to stop spread of Covid-19 in Peshawar.

They said that small time traders and shopkeepers suffered the most as they were facing difficulties to pay rent of their shops.

Speaking at a joint press conference here on Monday, vice president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) Mohammad Zahid and vice president of Business Panel Rasheed Paracha said that traders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Peshawar, were unable to cope with the current scenario.

They said that all traders including vendors and small time shopkeepers suffered losses owing to the lockdown. They appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to grant some relief to traders before Eid so that they could overcome the losses.

They also called on the provincial government to provide relief to traders in utility bills to enable them to continue their businesses.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2021

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