215 shops flouting SOPs face the music
Police, health dept officials raid several city markets
LAHORE: The Lahore district administration sealed 215 shops in the provincial capital over violations of the safety SOPs against coronavirus on Thursday.
The government has eased lockdown restrictions and allowed small businesses to function to support daily wage earner ahead of Eidul Fitr, but gross violations of social distancing and safety protocols are being observed in markets across the province.
Hide and seek continued between traders, police and the local administration in one of the oldest markets of the city, Anarkali. In the morning, city police closed Anarkali Bazaar over safety SOPs violation, which was later opened by the traders.
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Then district administration officials closed shops for not following SOPs enforced by the government.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Anjuman Tajiran Anarkali Bazaar President Ashraf Bhatti said the police and administration were not cooperating with traders.
“All shopkeepers and salesmen are using masks and hand sanitisers as advised by the government. We are requesting our customers not to bring their children in markets. We are trying to extend maximum cooperation to the government in the implementation of the SOPs,” he maintained.
The traders’ representatives also held a news conference to register their protest. They highlighted that Prime Minister Imran Khan has allowed small businesses to run for four days a week but the local administration and police are not allowing them to function freely. They suggested that the government should remove encroachment and ensure smooth flow of traffic to avoid crowding instead of creating hurdles in business operations.
The traders also warned the authorities that if they were not allowed to run their businesses, they would be compelled to take action and would not allow the government to rest.
Meanwhile, on the Lahore deputy commissioner’s orders, the assistant commissioners, police and health department officials conducted raids in various city markets to ensure strict implementation of the SOPs.
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The district administration teams sealed various shops in Link Road, Dharampura, Main Bazaar Raiwind, Shahalam Market and other areas over violations of the safety SOPs. Lahore Deputy Commissioner Danish Afzal has also directed all officials concerned to take stern action against SOPs violators and seal their businesses and shops.
Assistant Commissioner Tabraiz Murree along with the SP City conducted raids in Shah Alam Marker, Anarkali, Azam Cloth Market, Islampura and Beadon Road. During inspection, 160 shops were sealed over different violations. Dozens of shops were sealed in Azam Cloth Market, the biggest wholesale cloth market in the city.
Assistant Commissioner Adnan Rasheed sealed 12 shops in Riawind area for not adhering to the SOPs. He also chaired a meeting of law enforcing agencies to review the situation in the coronavirus hotspot of Riawind. Assistant Commissioner Marzia Saleem also sealed 27 shops, including big brands, in Y-Block Defence. She also sealed a salon for not following the SOPs.
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Similarly, Assistant Commissioner Zeeshan Nasrullah Ranjha sealed 16 shops in Chungi Amer Sadhu and Ferozepur Road. He also conducted an operation in Link Road market. Assistant Commissioner Mehdi Maloof conducted raids in the Shalimar area and issued warnings to various shopkeepers who were not following safety guidelines.
Punjab Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal, along with the deputy commissioner, inspected the implementation of safety SOPs in Liberty Market. He also instructed shopkeepers to take the precautions seriously to avoid the spread of the disease. He appealed to citizens to avoid crowded markets for their own safety.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2020.