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business
Friday Aug 28 2020
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Karachi rain: Businesses grind to a halt amid heavy downpours

KARACHI: Industrial production was severely hit as heavy rains and the resultant urban flooding forced suspension of industrial production and activity in the country's commercial engine on Thursday, according to a report in The News

Karachi, responsible for over 55% of Pakistan's exports by some accounts, faced unprecedented devastation as two separate bouts of rain lashed the city on Thursday.

The News quoted Ikhtiyar Baig of the Baig Group of Industries as saying that industrialists and exporters were facing serious logistics issues as containers could not reach production sites and port activity slowed down.

Baig reported that industrial areas were reporting a flood-like situation and nearly 80% of the workforce could not make it to their workplaces. 

Baig also complained of the breakdown in the electricity generation and supply infrastructure as well as shortages of fresh water. 

Meanwhile, Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman Javed Bilwani reported a more than 60% decline in production while raw materials and finished goods were destroyed as water entered warehouses and factories.

“Of course exports would be impacted. Units are inundated, labour can’t reach work. There is no transportation and no electricity,” Bilwani said in response to a question. 

The government, too, harbours similar fears as heavy rainfall continues to imperil industrial and business activity. 

Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood noted that export consignments were delayed because of the heavy rains in Karachi. 

“This will result in lower exports in August,” Dawood said in a tweet. “It appears that because of the heavy rains, particularly in Karachi, our export consignments are being delayed and hence our exports for the month of August may be affected. Any difficulties faced by the exporters may please be brought to the notice of the Ministry of Commerce.”

The blow to exports will be hard to take, especially after a long fought-for narrowing in the trade deficit came on the back of increased selling of Pakistani goods and services abroad. 

Karachi Electronics Dealer Association President Mohammad Rizwan said Karachi businesses generate Rs50 billion in revenue every day. 

"When businesses are closed, tax collection falls," he said. 

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chief Atiq Mir said almost all markets in the city were flooded. 

“Inventory worth billions of rupees has been destroyed,” he regretted.

Mir said half of the markets couldn’t open because there was either knee-deep water or mud that made it difficult for traders to open their shops. “Even if they had opened, there wouldn’t have been any buyers,” he pointed out. 

Shoaib Ashraf of the Oil Tankers and Contractors Association said all activity at fuel storage stations was suspended and there was no transportation of fuel in the city. 

“There is water everywhere and no electricity; therefore, tankers cannot be loaded and moved,” he explained. “Once the rain stops, we will start supply, and hopefully there will be no shortage plus there is very little demand.”