KARACHI: A number of export-oriented industries opened their units on Tuesday despite a local holiday in the country’s economic nerve centre, which was announced in connection to Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to the port city.

However, many units could not meet their production and export targets due to a labour shortage and disruption in cargo movement caused by a road blockade for the security of the visiting dignitary.

Besides, trading activities at the main hub of essential commodities — Dandia Bazaar — had also remained subdued due to the closure of main arteries like M.A. Jinnah Road near Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum and Shahra-e-Faisal, which also led to huge traffic jams in the vicinity of the main thoroughfares.

The suspension of cell phone service in some areas has added to the plight of people.

Holiday hampers economic activities in Karachi, Lahore

An industrialist at the Korangi industrial area told Dawn that the Labour Department of Sindh had issued a holiday notice to the industries but exporters had to manage their production activities to meet foreign buyers’ shipment deadlines.

He said the closure of Shahrah-e-Faisal in the afternoon had created a panic-like situation as workers and labourers who arrived on the morning shift had left their respective units. At the same time, the second-shift labour could not reach the industries.

“I have checked that these road blockades have kept production activities and export shipments at only 40 per cent,” he said.

Value Added Textile Forum Chief Coordinator Jawed Bilwani said more than half of the units were closed in the Site area and also in other industrial areas.

“Our production and export shipments suffered a drop of 60pc on Tuesday in the name of security measures,” he said, adding that one can estimate the production and export loss in Karachi, which holds a 54pc share in the country’s total exports.

Similar reports of partial activities were also coming from Lahore due to the local holiday announced to provide security to the visiting Iranian president. “Lahore enjoys a share of 20pc in the country’s total exports,” he claimed.

“What can exporters do in such a situation? I do not know what is going on in the country,” he said, referring to the closure of the city’s main arteries, forcing labourer living in far-flung areas to stay at their homes.

Faisal Anis Majeed, a commodity importer/exporter, said some 15-20pc shops were open in the Dandia Bazaar as traders and labourers failed to reach due to the closure of the M.A. Jinnah Road and Sharea Faisal, followed by traffic gridlocks. Some traders had also kept their offices closed.

Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) President Johar Qandhari, while extending a warm welcome to the Iranian president’s visit to Pakistan, expressed optimism that the visit would not only mend past tensions but also enhance trade and brotherly relations between the two nations.

He highlighted the untapped trade opportunities between Pakistan and Iran and stressed the need for a concerted effort to bolster economic cooperation.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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