KARACHI: The blocking of roads, particularly in the upcountry, by the government to stop Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Azadi March has caused a suspension in the arrival of industrial raw materials to Karachi on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, talking to Dawn, fruit and vegetable exporters claimed that problems had emerged after the confiscation of containers, which are used as barriers.

Industrialists said they couldn’t afford more political and economic challenges because they were already dealing with record-high interest rates, high production costs due to the rupee’s massive fall against the dollar and high freight rates.

On the contrary, the industrial community of Karachi breathed a sigh of relief that production activities and exports from Karachi remained unaffected despite a tense environment in Punjab where the law enforcement agencies have been trying to hold the Azadi March led by PTI chief Imran Khan. However, Karachi witnessed the closure of one of the main arteries at Numaish Chowrangi, leading to the main M.A. Jinnah Road as the PTI has turned its protests into a “sit in.”

Chairman Council of Pakistan Textile Association (CAPTA), Zubair Motiwalla, said the arrival of raw materials including yarn, grey cloth, chemicals, etc, has remained suspended till the evening due to the blockage of roads in various parts of Punjab.

However, he said the industries usually maintain a locally made raw material inventory of 15-20 days followed by two to three months’ stocks of imported raw materials.

Mr Motiwalla said the tense political situation in the country had so far not played any havoc with industrial activities as the situation remained normal.

“We are highly concerned over the current uncertain political conditions which are sending a wrong signal to the foreign buyers who may suspend future orders in case uncertainty looms,” the CAPTA chief said.

Chairman Pakistan Fashion Apparel Forum Jawed Bilwani said the factory output in Korangi and Site areas remained normal but exporters faced problems in getting delivery of yarn from Punjab.

“The Azadi March in Punjab and the road blockage at Numaish, Karachi have so far not hit any industrial output,” he claimed.

Patron in Chief All Paki­stan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Dealers Association, Waheed Ahmed claimed that the lifting of containers by the authorities to stop the long march of PTI had affected exports of mango and potato.

He said containers and trawlers loaded with fruit destined for the port had been stopped to block the roads, while huge numbers of empty containers had also been detained.

Mr Ahmed was concerned that foreign buyers would cancel their orders due to shipment delays, and that their orders would be diverted to India.

He urged the government to release the containers and trailers to avoid any foreign exchange losses.

According to President Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market, New Sabzi Mandi, Super Highway, Haji Shahjehan, the wholesale hub of fruits and vegetables, did not experience any supply constraints on Wednesday, with goods arriving from all over the country.

He said there might be some problems with the arrival of potatoes from Punjab in the coming days, while the wholesale market had ample stocks. Besides, there is no bottleneck in the arrival of onions and tomatoes from the Balochistan areas.

Anis Majeed, patron of the Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association (KWGA), said the wholesale market for essential food items was unaffected on Wednesday. “If the political upheaval prolongs, then the market will definitely feel its negative impact due to supply chain disruption,” he feared.

He said rice and some pulses arrived from Punjab. The supply of some pulse varieties from the interior of Sindh has so far remained normal. He said wholesalers usually hold stocks for three to four days, while some items from up country arrive almost daily, he said.

“The political drama between the government and PTI is not good for the country’s economy. They should sit and resolve the issues in the larger interest of the country,” he urged.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2022

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