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KARACHI: President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) M. Shariq Vohra has assured a delegation of All City Tajir Ittehad (ACTI) that the KCCI would try its level best to make sure that no injustice is done to any shopkeeper even if the government opts to go for another lockdown or smart lockdown in any market of Karachi to contain further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

"However, the shopkeepers must strictly ensure compliance of SOPs and also the business timings, besides devising effective strategies for social distancing as coronavirus, which is a matter of life and death, has to be taken seriously," he added.

Exchanging views with ACTI delegation which was led by its President Hammad Poonawala, President KCCI said that KCCI was in constant touch with the government and was closely eyeing numerous strategies being adopted to control coronavirus pandemic. Hence, any issue being faced by small traders/ shopkeepers must be brought to KCCI's notice so that the same could be immediately taken up with relevant departments and amicably resolved.

"KCCI would always advocate those strategies which are devised to not only save precious lives but also ensure minimum losses to business community during the ongoing most difficult and extraordinary situation."

Senior Vice President KCCI M. Saqib Goodluck, Vice President KCCI Shamsul Islam Khan, Chairman KCCI's Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon, Chief Police Chamber Liaison Committee Hafeez Aziz, Managing Committee Members, ACTI's District-wise Presidents and representatives from various commercial markets of Karachi also attended the meeting.

Keeping in view the developing situation and the fears of imposition of another lockdown, President KCCI advised representatives of numerous associations from commercial markets of Karachi to stay calm, improve liaison with KCCI and unite under the Chamber's platform so that one voice could be raised for getting numerous issues resolved and the likely grievances, if not completely eradicated, could be minimized.

He said, "It is high time that small traders and shopkeepers changed their mindset and started opening their businesses early morning which would certainly minimize the grievances being faced by them at the end of permitted business timings."

Responding to numerous complaints in which shopkeepers complained about harassment by police and customs officials, he advised that any complaint pertaining to harassment by customs officials must immediately be brought to KCCI's notice so that the same could be taken up at the higher level.

"The higher authorities are usually unaware of such wrongdoings being done by the officers at lower level as it has been observed that all such complaints are instantly resolved when brought to the notice of higher officials.

"The Karachi Chamber would invite IG Sindh soon so that the harassment-related problems being suffered by small traders could be resolved," he said.

President KCCI advised small traders to become KCCI members which was the most vibrant platform for resolving all types of issues including the law and order, customs and taxation related issues as KCCI's Subcommittees have been maintaining close liaison with all the departments which helps in swift resolution of relevant issues.

Speaking on the occasion, President ACTI Hammad Poonawala appreciated KCCI for always promptly taking up the issues of small traders and shopkeepers under the supervision of Chairman BMG Siraj Kassam Teli.

He pointed out that shopkeepers were anticipating another lockdown or smart lockdown which, if imposed, would prove completely destructive for small businesses.

"Hence, KCCI must play the lead role in convincing the government to refrain from imposing another lockdown and we will ensure strict compliance of all SOPs. In this regard, a committee should be formed by KCCI to look into the problems being faced by small traders who have been facing a lot of hardships every day."

ACTI delegation also expressed deep concern over dilapidated condition of roads in Shershah market and other important markets of Karachi which were terribly affecting trade and commercial activities. Although assurances have been given from time to time but no development work has been initiated so far and the roads continue to worsen day by day.

They further complained that in order to demand bribes, policemen, traffic police officers and customs officials intercept their legal consignments with an excuse to check presence of any illicit product. Even if all the legal documents are presented and the consignment is not carrying any banned item, they do not release it until the demand for bribe is fulfilled.

To deal with this serious issue, KCCI was requested to invite IG so that the business community could record their protest and formally request strictest action against such corrupt practices.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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