Traders protest after shops burn down

Affected shopkeepers demand compensation

Tariq Ismaeel June 26, 2018

DERA GHAZI KHAN: Hundreds of shops were gutted when a huge fire broke out in Taunsa City late on Sunday. The affected shopkeepers blocked the road in protest of the incident and demanded compensation from the government.

Rescue officials told The Express Tribune that the fire erupted in one of the shops and the blaze engulfed the entire market near Kalma Chowk. The blaze was so intense that it could be seen from far-flung areas of the city.

Several vehicles, including motorcycles and rickshaws, were completely destroyed as a result of the fire. After an hour, firefighters reached the spot and tried to control the blaze. However, due to the lack of fire tenders, the blazing inferno was controlled after hectic efforts lasting hours.  No loss of life was reported in the incident, while the exact cause could not be determined till the filing of this report.

Officials said the land on which the shops were situated was leased to shopkeepers who had set up different stalls, including auto workshops, fruits and vegetable shops, hotels and car stands.

Meanwhile, the affected shopkeepers and traders held a protest and demanded the government to announce a compensation package immediately. They blocked Peshawar-Karachi Indus Highway and raised slogans in favour of their demands.

They demanded the Punjab government and the army chief grant them permission to construct a park on the piece of land which has been leased. They added contractors had made the land a source of income and this had caused massive losses.

Later, Taunsa Assistant Commissioner Ashfaq Sial tried to negotiate with the protesters, but they refused to yield. They said that negotiations could not be held in the absence of the deputy commissioner and the protest will continue till the announcement of the compensation for the affected people.

While speaking to The Express Tribune, Ashfaq Sial said, “Lists of affected shopkeepers are being prepared and efforts are being made to facilitate them.” He added that the fire disrupted electricity supply in Taunsa and almost the whole area is without power for the last 20 hours.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2018.


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