KARACHI: Industrial, trade and commercial activities remained paralysed on Saturday owing to an unannounced closure observed in the city.
The closure inflicted losses worth bullions of rupees to businesses and also caused stress to consumers and commuters.
The situation proved particularly difficult for millions of daily wage-earners in the city.
Apart from main markets, retail shops in residential areas remained shut till late evening.
Korangi Association of Trade and Industry chairman Zubair Chahya said that prior to the closure on Saturday, the business community had already been struggling to overcome losses owing to 11 days goods transporters strike this month.
The unannounced strike proved disastrous as most of industrial units remained completely closed.
He said that industries had a tough time on Friday owing to low gas pressure which caused production losses. On Saturday, there was no production in units while supplies as well as exports remained disturbed owing to suspension in goods transport movement and market closure.
He said it is even hard to recover losses while running industries on Sunday as SSGC provides no gas.
Zubair said that out of 500,000 workers in over 3,000 units, some 20 per cent are daily wage earners who were the worst hit due to closure.
He said overall working remained insipid in the current year due to law and order situation and unannounced strikes.
He said that many exporters missed the deadline for sending shipments on Christmas and New Year while some had to bear high cost as they sent shipments by air as they had to fulfill commitments made to foreign buyers.
Site Association of Industry chairman Dr Arshad Vohra said 90 per cent of the industries remained inoperative.
Site industrial areas already have no gas from Friday which hit productivity.
He said industries cannot run on Sundays due to non-availability of gas.
More than 500,000 people are employed in 2,700 units in Site area in which 30-40 per cent people are daily wagers, he added.
FB Area Association of Trade and Industry chairman Haroon Shamsi said around 70 per cent units, out of 2,000, remained non-functional while 30 per cent units were operating at 50 per cent efficiency owing to paucity of labour.
The 2,000 units provide employment to over 100,000 people in which share of daily wage earners is 30 per cent.
North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry chairman Syed Iqtida Ali said that 60 per cent units, out of 2,200, remained closed in the absence of labour as well as transport.
Trade and industry people gave different estimates of per day financial loss.
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Haroon Agar estimated Rs2 to 3 billion trade, revenue, export and industrial loss on a single day closure.
All-Karachi Tajir Ittehad chairman Atiq Mir claimed Rs3.5-4 billion loss to traders only due to closure of markets and commercial shopping centres, excluding industrial production, revenue and export losses.
Karachi has over 550 markets and 650,000-700,000 shops. There are around two to 2.5 million daily wagers who suffered owing to zero trading activities.
Super Highway Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market President Haji Shahjehan said that the arrival of vegetables from the interior of Sindh and other parts of the country remained normal, but trading remained below 10 per cent as shopkeepers did not turn up from the city.
Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association chairman Anis Majeed said that arrival of edible items from various parts of the Punjab and Sindh remained suspended owing to closure of main markets. Many goods carriers from interior of Sindh and Punjab’s producing areas had to stop on way to Karachi or in nearby godowns.
Even shipment of imported edible items from wholesale market to upcountry came to a halt.
Clearance of import and export consignments at the Customs remained extremely slow due to tense situation in the city on Saturday.
Though cargo handling inside Karachi and Qasim Port remained normal in the absence of clearing agents, filing of goods declarations (GDs) at Customs was negligible.
There are four Customs Collectorates, Port Qasim, Preventive, Appraisement and PaCCs, which on average receive 200 to 300 GDs each per day, but on Saturday only 20 to 25 per cent were submitted by importers or their clearing agents.
Official sources said the four Customs Collectorates normally collect around Rs1.2 to Rs1.3 billion in duty and taxes per day.
However, collection plummeted to around 20 per cent or Rs400 million on Saturday.