The port city's largest wholesale market for commodities was closed as a protest against Karachi commissioner and city administration raids on pretext of action against profiteering and hoarding.
Traders say they are being forced to sell goods at the rates notified three years ago whereas inflation has gone up exponentially during this period.
The suspension of activity at Jodia Bazaar disrupted the supply of commodities while also affecting hundreds of daily wagers and transporters associated with the market.
Jodia Bazaar is the lifeline of commodities in Pakistan, including spices and grains such as wheat, rice, pulses and other edible items. The bazaar makes supply of the commodities across the country.
However, a spree of raids and fines imposed by local administration and district authorities during the month of Ramazan prompted traders and businessmen of Jodia Bazaar to hold demonstrations.
According to Karachi Retail Grocers Group (KRGG) Secretary General Muhammad Farid Qureshi the closure of Jodia Bazaar is affecting the supply of goods, especially the availability of sugar. Qureshi further said that retailers are also being affected due to non-issuance of official price list.
The official list of commodities has not changed in the last three years, they said, lamenting that wholesale prices have doubled during this long times. Due to high prices, is impossible to sell items at the retail level as indicated in the official price list, they said, condemning the action by the officials from the district administration and commissioner.
Consequently, traders of the Jodia Bazaar on Wednesday protested against the imposition of fines on shopkeepers by the assistant commissioner Garden. Traders said that they were treated in an abusive manner with unwarranted fines.
According to Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association (KWGA) President Abdul Rauf Ibrahim, the official price of the commodities has not been changed for past three years. It is impossible to sell at prices notified three years ago but the city administration is adamant on enforcing the old rates.
The market stakeholders have already informed the authorities in this regard and made an appeal to release the official price list of the grocery items.
Despite the arrival of Ramadan, the price list could not be updated as per the market price, Ibrahim said, adding that during the last three years, the value of dollar has increased significantly while trade conditions have also changed and the cost of transportation of food grains has also increased. The wholesalers question as to how they can sell at three year old rates when prices have seen drastic increased.
The traders further said neither the administration nor any representative of the Sindh government had contacted him in this regard.
If the appeal of the traders was not heard, the market would remain closed on Saturday and the district authorities and the Sindh government would be held responsible for the situation arising out of the delay, they warned.
On the other hand, closure of Jodia Bazaar also disrupted livelihood for hundreds of laborers rendering their services at the market.
Hundreds of daily wage earners earn their livelihood by unloading sacks at the market while many others are engaged in transportation of the goods from the market to different parts of the city.
Donkey cart owners working in the bazaar maintain that they earn daily wages from the market but due to its sudden inactivity on Wednesday evening and complete closure on Thursday, they left for their homes empty-handed.
They further lamented that they could not even earn enough to be able to feed their donkeys. You can go hungry yourself, but how to keep the animal hungry? they question in pain.
The laborers who pull handcart complained that the business has already decreased and the closure of the market would send them to the verge of starvation.
Retailers from different parts of the city who came to buy goods from Jodia Bazaar were also disappointed. A large number of ration distribution charities and individuals also returned frustrated seeing the bazaar shut.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2021.