Lahore shopkeepers devastated by Pace blaze seek govt support

Published April 4, 2022
This image shows Gulberg’s Pace Shopping Mall in the aftermath of the fire. — Dawn
This image shows Gulberg’s Pace Shopping Mall in the aftermath of the fire. — Dawn

LAHORE: A number of shopkeepers affected by the fire at the Gulberg’s Pace Shopping Mall have criticised the Punjab government for leaving them high and dry without any financial support after the incident. They have demanded the government immediately announce a compensation package as it had announced for those affected by the Hafeez Centre blaze.

“We were already worried before the incident due to low business activities because of the deteriorating economic situation in the country and the fire tragedy has destroyed any chance of recovery. All is gone and we have nothing to do if the government doesn’t support us,” said a man who owned a shop in the gutted shopping mall on the Main Boulevard, Gulberg.

“For God’s sake, please help us and don’t leave us alone in the time of crisis,” he pleaded to the government.

Flay govt for leaving them high and dry in crisis

On March 14, a massive fire in a multi-storey mall gutted about 400 shops, leaving emotional scenes when the traders were helplessly seeing their merchandise being reduced to ashes in front of their eyes. The disturbing part of the incident was that dozens of fire engines and firefighters of Rescue 1122 and the Civil Defence were unable to save any portion of the plaza.

“Those who had shops in the mal have been left with no option but to place stalls in the courtyard and open spaces at the sides and front of the mall, displaying their garments and other merchandise over there and resume the business activities,” said another shopkeeper while displaying shirts and other garments on the stalls allotted to him by the traders union of the plaza.

“We are worried about the eve of Eid after the upcoming Ramazan for our children,” he said and appealed to the Punjab government to issue an order for a survey of the losses and announce a reasonable compensation package for the affected businesses.

It may be mentioned that former chief minister Usman Buzdar, in October 2020, had announced Rs5bn relief package for those affected by Hafeez Centre fire. He had said his government would provide soft loans to 207 fire affectees in collaboration with the Bank of Punjab to help them resume their businesses. He said around Rs1.6bn would be given as a subsidy of mark-up.

“We request the government to also announce a reasonable relief package for us as was announced by it for Hafeez Centre fire affectees.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2022

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