‘8p.m. shutter down’ frustrating buyers and sellers alike
Azhar Mehmood & Aftab Alam
Islamabad, June 27, 2010: “We have won democracy after a prolonged struggle against dictatorship. We now expect the government to offer us some relief rather than imposing dictatorial decisions like shutter down at 8 p.m., which has inflicted losses to the tune of 80% to my business,” complains Izhar Khan of ‘Fashion Affairs.’ Izhar, who has been running this shop in Islamabad’s Aabpara Market for the last 20 years, is overwhelmed by the government’s handling of the energy crisis.
On April 22, 2010, the government announced a comprehensive plan to overcome the energy crisis, closure of businesses at 8 p.m. being among other several other so-called austerity measures. The decision was resisted by the traders of Islamabad. They defied the government’s decision, forcing it to suspend electricity supply to markets at 8 p.m. Small traders who could not afford to buy a generator or UPS were left with no choice but to shutter their shops down before that time.
Raja Hassan, who appeared rather perturbed soon after the forced power outage at 8 p.m. in Aabpara Market, said: “Markets do not observe complete closure at 8 p.m. and those who can afford generators or UPS remain open. I sit idle till 10 p.m. and then restart my business. I have lost more than 50% of my profit on account of this decision.”
M. Qayyum said, “No other government ever took such a cruel and drastic decision during the 30 years of my business life in the market. The closing time should be 10 p.m. rather than 8 p.m.”
Waseem Ahmad, at Ilmi Book Centre in Aabpara, said: “We are suffering 10-15% losses due to loadshedding at 8 p.m. What is the government’s problem when we are using our own generators to cater for the energy needs of the shop?”
Deviating from the generally prevalent mindset, M. Tariq at Modern Bakers appreciated the measure, and termed it “a landmark decision to inculcate discipline in the nation.”
On the other hand, people who are out for shopping also experience a rush of blood when the closing time approaches. Panic is written large on their faces. Seventy-year-old Ruqqayya Bibi, who was doing her last-minute shopping in Super Market, remarked: “I have been residing in the capital for the last 43 years. I still remember the golden days of Ayub Khan when everything was cheap. We have to die one day but this government has given us untimely death in the form of price-hike, loadshedding and closure of markets to destroy the business community.”
“It is too hot to shop during the day,” said Mussarat Tanweer, as she hurriedly entered a half-lit shop in Super Market to grab some necessities. Saima Yaqoob, a resident of G-6, said: “I am a teacher in the evening shift at a local school and return home at around 7:30 p.m.; my husband returns from office in the evening. There is panic every day as we have no time to buy groceries and stuff. I don’t understand which sin we have committed to pay the price for!”
While shopkeepers are doubtlessly the hardest hit and are adversely being affected by a sharp decline in sales, the buyers are equally annoyed because of constant psychological stress. It seems people are really troubled by the decision and want their elected representatives to review their plan for conservation of energy. -- INFN (Infochange News and Features Network)