Aftermath: First winter showers hit business activities in Karachi

Industrial output drops to half, main wholesale markets stay shut

Our Correspondent January 14, 2017

KARACHI: Industrial and commercial activities in Karachi received a severe hit on Saturday because of continuous downpour - the first winter showers in the city.

Most industrial units failed to reach even half of their production levels in the absence of many workers who could not make it to their workplaces. The more severe dip was noted in commercial activities as rainwater accumulated in the main wholesale markets of the old city area.

“Owing to massive traffic jams on Friday night, most factory workers avoided leaving their homes on Saturday morning, which eventually affected industrial production,” commented Masood Naqi, President of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), one of the largest industrial zones in the city.

Naqi said initial information coming from manufacturing units revealed that overall industrial production on Saturday remained close to half of the output on any normal day.

The rainfall started on Friday afternoon, but the continuing showers during the early office hours of Saturday made it difficult for the workers to reach their factories. Public transport also remained thin in the city.

“All the main wholesale markets remained closed because of the accumulated rainwater in the old city area,” All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir said.

“The situation is so bad that the shopkeepers may have to keep their shops closed on Sunday as well because of the stagnant rainwater in the markets,” he said, adding the current situation could have been avoided but the government machinery did not do anything for water drainage.

“I am in the main market right now but I don’t see any government official here. The indifference of authorities may cause losses of billions to the traders because the situation is not going to normalise soon,” he decried.

Traders’ representatives say the accumulation of rainwater has always been a problem for these markets, but the situation has worsened in recent years. The performance of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) has also deteriorated over the last three years, which has created further problems for the trading community.

According to the representatives of wholesale markets, there are more than 25,000 small and big shops and warehouses in the old city. These shops and warehouses play a very important role in Pakistan’s trade mainly because of their close proximity to the Karachi Port.

The improvement in security situation in recent years has helped enhance business activities in the old city markets that have strong business links with major wholesale markets of the country due to their dependence on imported grains, spices, electronic goods, etc.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2017.

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