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KARACHI: Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President M. Shariq Vohra has told shopkeepers and small traders that instead of demanding enhancement of business hours from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, they should change their habits of opening businesses belatedly and start all types of business activities early in the morning in order to save the countrymen from the lethal coronavirus pandemic.

Exchanging views with a delegation of the Alliance of Arambagh Market Association, the KCCI president said, "KCCI fully realizes and is well aware of all the hardships and losses being suffered by shopkeepers and small traders due to curtailment of business hours but they must also realize that our beloved country is also going through an extraordinary situation. Hence we all have to make some inevitable adjustments in our lifestyle and strictly comply with SOPs and business hours in order to save our brothers, sisters, senior citizens and kids from the life-threatening COVID-19 pandemic."

He said the KCCI had always tried its best to resolve the issues being faced by the small traders and shopkeepers.

He advised shopkeepers that any issue being caused by the police or city's administration should immediately be brought to KCCI's notice so that its Police Chamber Liaison Committee and other relevant subcommittees could intervene in the matter to minimize the grievances of the traders.

"We have to act responsibly by strictly adhering to SOPs but the police department, LEAs and city's administration must also ensure that all shopkeepers and traders are being treated equally, and no injustice is done to anyone which, if happens, will not be tolerated and taken up at the highest level," he added.

Chairman Alliance of Arambagh Market Association Asif Gulfam, while referring to the sincere efforts made by Chairman BMG Siraj Teli who struggled really hard for minimizing the hardships of the small traders as soon as the lockdown was imposed in March 2020, hoped that KCCI would once again raise its voice for the small traders who were very disturbed by the limited business hours. "Instead of allowing business hours from 6:00am to 6:00pm, the government should allow business activity from 8:00am to 8:00pm which would help in minimizing the losses to some extent," he added.

He said that although shopkeepers, salesmen and other staff at shops were strictly adhering to all the SOPs, yet it was the general public and customers who usually ignored the SOPs which was the basic reason for the upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

The government, instead of making shops close earlier, must come up with some kind of an effective strategy to compel the masses to strictly comply with the SOPs which would yield positive results, he said, adding that instead of curtailing, the government should look into the possibility of enhancing business hours which was the best possible solution for dealing with overcrowding at markets.

Vice President of KCCI Shamsul Islam Khan, Chairman of Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon, KCCI Managing Committee members and representatives from various commercial markets were also present at the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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