PESHAWAR: Trader leaders in the provincial metropolis rejected the government’s plan to close markets and restaurants earlier than usual business hours to conserve energy.

They demanded of the federal government to review its decision. “In case our demand is not accepted, the business community will have the only option to defy the restrictions,” the leaders of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Tajir Ittehad Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said here on Wednesday.

SCCI president Mohammad Ishaq and Tajir Ittehad president Mujeebur Rehman in their separate statements said that federal government failed to implement its energy conservation plan in Punjab and Karachi but traders in Peshawar were forced to pull down shutters at 8:30pm daily.

Mujeebur Rehman told Dawn that traders’ representatives held several meetings with relevant officials including Peshawar commissioner to apprise them of their grievances but practical steps were yet to be taken in that regard.

Urge govt to allow them to keep shops open till midnight

Mohammad Ishaq said that authorities were informed about the apprehensions of traders regarding early closure of markets, but to no avail. He said that it was completely unfair to shut down business premises and commercial hubs by 8:30pm to enforce the energy conservation plan.

He said that energy conservation plan had not been implemented in Punjab as markets and bazaars remained open till late night there, which was a reflection of the government ‘double standard’ policy.

The SCCI president said the customers mostly preferred night for shopping in Ramazan instead of early day hours but when they thronged bazaars after breaking fasts, the authorities concerned started forcibly shutting down markets and shopping malls besides imposing heavy fines on traders.

He urged the federal and provincial governments to allow opening of markets till late night facilitate people. He expressed concerns over setting up checkpoints at various locations in Peshawar Cantonment. He said that it affected smooth flow of traffic and customers faced difficulties to reach markets.

Mujeeb said that traders usually closed shops from 6pm to 8pm due to Iftar. “We want to keep our business open from 8pm to late in midnight so that the people could visit markets for Eid shopping,” he said.

He added that 80 per cent of traders, especially belonging to remote areas, were in the habit to shut their shops in the evening.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2023

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