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Tuesday April 16, 2024

Protests en masse: Public, traders observe shutter-down against exorbitant power bills

“Electricity bills will need to be paid and IMF conditions will be implemented,” PM Kakar says on hiked power bills

By Web Desk
September 02, 2023
A view of closed shops due to strike by traders due to the high cost of electricity bills on August 31, 2023. — INP
 A view of closed shops due to strike by traders due to the high cost of electricity bills on August 31, 2023. — INP

Owing to the rising cost of living and exorbitant electricity bills amid sky-rocketing inflation, the public including traders are observing a nationwide shutter-down strike with many taking to the streets.

The recent hike in power bills has angered the country's already-burdened consumers, as well as traders, who have been surviving by a thread due to the ongoing back-breaking inflation in the country.

Despite the protests and refusal of the public to pay hiked bills, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has ruled out any possibility of immediate relief. He has, instead, said there is no option for consumers but to pay their bills, while the interim government tries to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the issue.

“The electricity bills will need to be paid and IMF conditions will be implemented,” Kakar said.

Meanwhile, the public and traders have joined the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) supporting its call for a shutter-down strike during which small and large commercial shops and businesses have been closed in cities including Karachi, Peshawar, Sargodha and Sheikhupura, among others.

The Punjab Bar Council also announced a strike against inflation with lawyers also absent from courts.

In Karachi, citizens protested against inflation in Shah Latif Town, blocking the flow of traffic on the National Highway.

Traders split into two factions on JI's call for a shutterdown strike in Sargodha. President Anjuman-e-Tajiran Sheikh Nadeem Khawar said he would participate in the shutter-down strike but would not hold a rally, while its general secretary spoke against the strike at the request of a political party. He assured to support the strike if announced by Anjuman-e-Tajiran.

The lawyers of the district bar in Faisalabad announced a strike, too, with protests in the city recorded by citizens at Canal Road and Digikot demanding abolishing taxes by burning tires and blocking the road for traffic.

Transgenders in Rawalpindi surrounded the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) office, holding banners and placards, and demanding the government to immediately roll back the hike in petrol and electricity prices.

In Mandi Bahauddin, traders observed a shutter-down strike against an increase in electricity bills, and all small and major markets as well as commercial centers in the city remained closed.

The All Pakistan Traders Community did a strike in Peshawar with most markets and centers shut. Food outlets and medical stores, however, remained open in the city.

Traders in Arifwala announced a shutter-down with trade organisations supporting and announcing to keep shops and businesses closed across the city.

In Chichawatni, the strike was also supported by lawyers due to which people showing up to attend hearings have remained affected too. Shops are also closed in Kasowal, Iqbal Nagar and Ghaziabad.

There is a complete strike in different cities across Sindh with all business centers and petrol pumps in Thatta, Gharo, Makli, Dhabeji and other cities shut down, while the traffic on the roads is less than normal.