Friday Jun 04 2021
Web Desk

Karachi traders to keep shops open till 8pm in protest against govt's 'unilateral' moves

Web Desk
Police officials patrol at Empress Market to see to the implementation of restrictions imposed as a preventive measure to curb the spread of coronavirus in Karachi. — APP
  • Karachi traders to defiantly keep shops open till 8pm, against the 6pm closing down time notified by the Sindh government.
  • Warn of protest if police take action such as use of force or sealing shops.
  • Sindh had tightened curbs on May 23, which were to remain in place for at least two weeks.

The Tajir Action Committee in Karachi on Friday announced that starting June 5 (Saturday), traders will keep shops open till 8pm.

A notification by the committee said that the government had made no contact with traders, had not accepted a single demand of theirs, and only acted "unilaterally".

"If the police resort to use of force or attempt to seal markets, we will protest," said the notification.

Three days ago, the Karachi Tajir Action Committee had demanded the Sindh government allow businesses to remain open till 8pm.

The committee leaders, in a press conference, further asked that they be allowed to close businesses for one day instead of the two lockdown days being observed right now.

They also asked the government to withdraw the powers given to the magistrate to seal markets and impose fines on businesses.

The committee said that the federal and Sindh governments should not make decisions without consulting businessmen. They also said that their demands should be accepted within 72 hours or else they will announce a new plan of action.

Businessman Atiq Mir remarked that it was only the MQM that asked them about the difficulties they were facing.

“Sindh Government and NCOC are ignoring us, in Sindh the education minister is making decisions related to businesses,” said Mir. He warned that if businesses in Karachi are not allowed to open past 6pm then they will protest.

Meanwhile, businessman Sharjeel Goplani alleged that the district administration took Rs1 million as a bribe from the mobile market and also took valuable mobile phones from them. He added that businessmen were demanding governor’s rule in the province.

The committee also demanded that special incentives be given to businessmen in the upcoming budget.

Confusion regarding Sindh's COVID response

The traders' committee's announcement today comes amid confusion regarding the province's response to the coronavirus crisis.

The provincial government had announced on May 23 it is tightening curbs, part of which involved reduced business hours. Shop owners were told they can only keep businesses open till 6pm.

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah had said that the new rules would remain in place for at least two weeks. At the time, he said that in Sindh,  a 9% positivity ratio was observed overall. In Karachi, the positivity ratio stood at more than 13% and in Hyderabad it was recorded at more than 10%.

A day earlier, the Sindh education minister, Saeed Ghani, had indicated the government plans on reopening sectors. Ghani said that if economic activity in Karachi is curtailed, it will harm the Sindh government.

On the other hand, Dr Azra Pechuho ,said that the province will reopen sectors once a significant proportion of the population is vaccinated.

'Positivity in Karachi still above 11%'

Dr Pechuho deplored that despite the efforts of the government, people are still hesitant to get themselves vaccinated.

She said all members of the national and provincial assemblies have been inoculated for the coronavirus vaccine.

"The coronavirus positivity ratio in Karachi is still above 11%," Dr Pechuho said, adding that Sindh is yet to see an improvement in this regard.

"Hospitals are still receiving coronavirus positive patients."

She stressed on the need for everyone to get vaccinated at the earliest to help curb the spread of the virus.

"People aged 30 and above can now go to walk-in vaccination centres, while people aged 19 to 29 can now get themselves registered for the vaccine," she said.

Shedding light on arrangements that Sindh is making to inoculate people, Dr Pechuho said that the government has started negotiating with industrialists.

"We are also planning to vaccinate people at home, while a mobile vaccination service will also be launched soon," the health minister said.

She said that the government has set a target of inoculating more than 18 million people within three months.

Dr Pechuho said that 17.26 million of Sindh's population comprises people aged 30 and below, while 1.5 million people have so far been vaccinated.

Taking a jibe at those who have criticised the government's decision to impose coronavirus restrictions in the province, Dr Pechuho said it is wrong to say that the move is equivalent to "economic murder."

"Shops are open, while people are regularly shopping online," she said. "We didn't have to impose a curfew in the province."