Traders threaten to open markets tomorrow
Traders associations around the country have threatened to open their businesses on April 15, Wednesday (tomorrow).
The heads of traders’ representative bodies at a press conference in Karachi announced the decision to open the markets from (tomorrow) Wednesday, saying that the lockdown had destroyed their businesses.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, the Sindh Tajir Mahaz office-bearers said the traders had paid the salaries of thousands of employees for a month but they could not continue doing so, as the sacking of the workers would be the only option left if the markets were not opened.
All the markets would be opened across Sindh on April 15, Sindh Tajir Ittehad Chairman Jamil Piracha said, while citing the financial crisis faced because of the 28-day-long lockdown.
He said they will hand over the keys of their businesses at Sindh Chief Minister’s House. “It has been almost a month since the lockdown was imposed. We have run out of funds. We are in dire straits and left with no choice but to lay off the workers,” he said.
The Sindh traders appealed to the prime minister to take notice of the situation and intervene. “The government is talking about opening the industries and construction sector though the small traders are vanishing,” the traders maintained.
However, the traders’ representatives said they would ensure social distancing at their businesses to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The traders threatened to sack the employees if the government opted to extend the lockdown.
In a related development, the Balochistan traders have also announced to open their markets from April 15, Wednesday.
A spokesman of the Balochistan Traders Association on Tuesday also said that the business community can no longer afford to shut down their markets.
Traders and businessmen in Peshawar have also demanded the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government ease the lockdown after April 14. They warned that if the government does not let them resume business activities, they will open the markets themselves in defiance of the government’s orders.
“We haven’t even gotten any aid or grants from the government during this time,” a trader said. The businessmen have also formed an eight-member committee for talks with the authorities.
Following this, KP Government Spokesperson Ajmal Wazir assured that the government has prepared a package for small traders and will soon announce it.
Meanwhile, an Anjuman-e-Tajran Lahore delegation led by its general secretary Naeem Mir demanded the Punjab government to allow the small businesses to open from 9am to 5pm.
In a meeting with Punjab Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal on Tuesday, they also suggested that the government should stop the rent collection for its properties.
Separately, the traders of the Township area also called for exempting the small businesses from lockdown for an eight-hour period daily from tomorrow.
The latest announcement came after the Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and the traders’ associations said they would open the factories and markets from Wednesday.
Famous industrialist Zubair Motiwala had earlier told a private TV channel that the markets should be opened first as the industries could be made functional only if the retailers were doing their business.