Traders ‘warn of clashes’ with LEAs if business disallowed – Pakistan

LAHORE: All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT) has ‘warned of clashes’ between the small traders and law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) in the provincial capital on the issue of a complete lockdown starting from May 8 (tomorrow) in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions.

The traders’ body has also urged the government to better follow business policy of the Saudi government that allows opening of businesses round the clock so as to avert rush of people and spread of virus.

“We don’t know who is guiding the government on the issue of Covid-19 SOPs, preventive measures, opening of businesses. Anyhow whosoever is doing this, [it seems] he doesn’t have any knowledge about the ways to avert spread of virus,” deplored APAT General Secretary Naeem Mir while talking to Dawn on Thursday.

“The government should have allowed businesses ahead of Eid round the clock in a bid to avert spread as done in Saudi Arabia where the entire markets, malls, shops etc have been allowed to keep their businesses open,” he said.

Besides APAT, the country’s business community, associations and chambers have already opposed a week-long Eid holidays amid closure of all sorts of public transport. The situation has not only panicked the business community, especially the traders but also the people who thronged the markets for shopping due to limited working hours (9am to 6pm).

In Lahore, the situation seems [somewhat] confused where the traders’ bodies, while rejecting the lockdown, have asked the shopkeepers to keep their businesses open till Chand Raat under certain SOPs.

“At present we are worried about small traders/retail markets, where the Eid shopping is getting momentum, and not the wholesale markets such as Shah Alam, Azam market, Abid market etc., since the traders there have already sold their goods to retailers. So, I personally fear that if the police forcibly get the small markets closed, where the small traders are yet to dispose of their goods to end consumers, clashes may take place,” Mir feared. He also expressed surprise over closure of all sorts of public transport from May 8, stating that how the people, workers etc will travel to their home towns. It means they are being forced to use expensive private transport (taxi etc). “It clearly reflects that the government wants to kill the people economically,” the APAT secretary said.

Talking to Dawn, Lahore DC Mudassir Riaz Malik said the forum of taking decision to allow businesses round the clock is the NCOC.

“The logic given by the traders to allow 24/7 businesses to avert rush of people and spread of virus can be discussed. But this decision can only be taken by the NCOC. And we are supposed to.implement the NCOC instructions,” he said.

LWMC: The Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) says that cleanliness operation will continue even during lockdown and Eidul Fitr.

“In pursuance of the guidelines – mobility control measures from May 8-16, including lockdown and Eidul Fitr holidays, issued by the government, all the related staff will perform their duties as per routine. Furthermore, the staff that will perform their duties during holidays in respective offices/field will be compensated,” reads an office notice issued by the company.

“Sanitary workers will be paid Rs500 whereas the drivers and other technical staff will get Rs800 per day,” it says.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2021