Vendors suffer as heatwave prevents shoppers from visiting weekly bazaars

Published May 27, 2024
The H-9 weekly bazaar gives a deserted look.
The H-9 weekly bazaar gives a deserted look.

The current heatwave has badly disturbed the business of vendors of weekly bazaars as shoppers avoid visiting these facilities due to the scorching heat.

“Due to the heatwave, our business has been badly affected nowadays as a majority of people avoid visiting the bazaars during the day,” said Sarwar Khan, a vendor in H-9 bazaar.

Lights at a stall are powered by solar energy.
Lights at a stall are powered by solar energy.

He said that his business has been facing downfall for the last month. “But I am hopeful things will improve after July,” he said.

In H-9 bazaar, stallholders, including those who deal in cloth and curtain businesses, said that overall business activities have been facing a decline. “The buying capacity of people is already very weak, and they are taking less interest in buying carpets, curtains, clothes, etc.,” said Mohammad Usman, a vendor.

Solar panels installed on the roofs of the stalls in the bazaar.
Solar panels installed on the roofs of the stalls in the bazaar.

Similarly, Fiaz Hussain, who sells plastic pots and toys, said that his business had been facing constant decline for the last few years.

Meanwhile, the stallholders have been using electricity either through generators or solar systems instead of connections. Two stallholders installed two generators outside of a bazaar, and they have been providing electricity to others for Rs200 per light per week, and for fans, they charge an extra amount. Similarly, a number of stallholders have their own solar panels.

Those stallholders who do not have solar panels use this generator for which they are charged.
Those stallholders who do not have solar panels use this generator for which they are charged.

Stall holders said that earlier they made hectic efforts to get electricity connections, but with solar panels and private generators, they are satisfied.

“We are no longer interested in electricity connections as the government charges heavily for electricity; we are happy with solar and generator-produced electricity,” said a stallholder.

Earlier, the timing of the bazaar was from the morning till sunset, which was the reason the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) was not providing electricity connections. However, last year, the DMA allowed business activity in all bazaars until 8pm. In Islamabad, there are a number of weekly bazaars, with H-9 and G-6 being the most visited.

Moreover, a number of out-of-school children also work in the city’s weekly bazaars to support their families.

“I have been doing labour work to help my family,” said 12-year-old Shairullah, a resident of Chungi No. 26. He said that he had been working at this weekly bazaar for the last six years.

A stallholder commenting on the issue of out-of-school children said that the government’s campaign cannot succeed until and unless such children are given financial incentives.

“These children are bread earners for their families, and why would they attend school when their family is facing starvation? If the government wants to make the out-of-school children campaign successful, it will have to think about the families of such kids,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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