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November 27, 2020

Markets, retail shops allowed to remain open till 8pm daily


November 27, 2020

Relaxing its fresh lockdown order against the spread of the coronavirus after criticism from traders and opposition leaders, the Sindh government has granted permission to the markets and the retail shops in the province to remain open till 8pm daily.

In a tweet posted on Thursday, Sindh government spokesman Barrister Murtaza Wahab announced the permission and expressed hope that the market associations, the retail store owners and the public would make sure the compliance of the government-recommended Standard Operating Procedures against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Sindh law and environment adviser said the provincial government would monitor as to what extent the anti-coronavirus SOPs were being observed. He said every citizen, including the retailer and the shopper, was under obligation to wear face masks during the business hours of the markets.

It is worth mentioning here that the traders and retailers had been demanding extension in their daily business hours beyond 6pm by amending the latest lockdown order of the provincial government.

Traders call on MQM-P leaders

Earlier in the day, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) blasting the Sindh government for discrimination with traders in Karachi and “doing nothing” for the business community during the first lockdown period that affected them badly.

A delegation of Karachi traders, led by Atiq Mir, head of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, visited the MQM-P’s temporary headquarters to meet the MQM-P leadership, including convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

Mir told the MQM-P leadership the federal and provincial governments had directed traders to shut down the businesses by 10 pm in the entire country, except for Karachi, to contain the coronavirus spread but the Sindh government had forcibly been shutting down the businesses in Karachi at 6pm.

Mir said the government should allow the reopening of businesses under the coronavirus-related Standard Operating Procedures. The visiting traders said small businesses were badly hit by the first lockdown and that the Sindh government had no sympathy for them. “The Sindh government was apathetic towards what the traders and labourers were going through.”

The MQM-P chief said the party supported all demands of the traders and that the federal and provincial governments should immediately accept all of their demands. Siddiqui said the provincial government had just shut the businesses without taking into account the problems of the traders.

“Reducing the market hours will only cause overcrowding in the bazaars,” he said. “The federal government should act instead of merely making announcements and provide relief to Karachi’s traders who pay 70 per cent of the national taxes, and despite it, they have been deprived of their genuine rights.”

He alleged that the Sindh governments’ biased acts against Karachi’s traders showed that the Pakistan Peoples Party had been working on the agenda of Sindhudesh. “Only Karachi is being shut down while the other parts of Sindh are allowed to do businesses,” he said.

Nasir Shah responds

Responding to Muttahida Quami Movement-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui’s criticism of the Sindh government, information and local government minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said the Pakistan Peoples Party would not let the MQM-P hold Karachi hostage again.

The minister said the Sindh government had always honoured and respected the traders as it always let the businessmen do their work without any fear.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or weep on Khalid Maqbool’ statement that the Sindh government has been bothering the traders,” said Shah “The way Khalid Maqbool’s party had troubled and harassed the traders in the past has now become a part of history.” He said the Sindh government had been taking steps to safeguard the people of Karachi from the coronavirus infection.