KARACHI: The fruits and vegetables traders of New Sabzi Mandi have given a three-day ultimatum to the government to provide compensation to those vendors who lost their shops and carts in the fire that broke out on Wednesday.
“The fire affected more than 75 percent of the total Sabazi Mandi and the loss could be in billions” said Wasay Tareen, the deputy general secretary of All Tajir Beradari Alliance Sabzi Mandi. The alliance received an estimate of the damages from only half of the affected shopkeepers and the amount of losses has already exceeded Rs750 million, he added.
More than 300 shops were damaged in the inferno while thousands of wooden cartons and sacks were burnt to ashes. Tareen warned that if the government failed to provide compensation, the alliance will formulate a future plan of action. He added that no one from the government has contacted them yet to inquire about their losses.
Meanwhile, chief fire officer Mohammed Ehteshamuddin told The Express Tribune that his teams managed to control the blaze after 20 hours of struggle. According to him, the hot and strong winds may have caused the fire, which became worse due to a large number of wooden cartons, empty sacks and sugarcane rind in the market.
“There might be human error behind the fire but the strong wind made it spread faster.” He said that the law and order situation and traffic jams prevented the fire trucks from reaching the site promptly. “The market is also very far from the city,” he said. “There were also no safety measures or water available in the market.”
Nevertheless, the supplies of vegetables and fruits into the city continued uninterrupted on Thursday, but the prices did see a hike. Safdar Khan a vegetable vendor at Jackson Bazaar in Keamari told The Express Tribune that he had to buy vegetables at high rates on Thursday. “When we got the vegetables at high rates how can we sell them at a loss?” he asked. A day before the fire, tomatoes and potatoes were being sold at Rs40 and Rs30 per kilogramme, respectively. On Thursday, their rates had gone up to Rs60 and Rs40.
“Though vegetables and fruits have reached the bazaars, the price of every item has gone up by at least 30 per cent,” claimed Ameen Khan, a resident of Sultanabad. According to Tareen, 400 to 500 trucks of vegetables and 300 trucks of fruits go into the city every day.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.