The recent rise in food prices is weighing heavily on the citizens of the twin cities. Container blockades around the metropolises have begun causing shortages in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and adjoining areas, as delivery vans and trucks have been unable to reach local wholesale markets.
The prices of daily-use commodities had already started climbing soon after the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) marches were announced, and now, shortages of fresh produce are noticeable in many major market areas.
“Hundred of trucks and vans carrying consumer goods from across the country arrive and depart from Sabzi Mandi with produce such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables,” said Liaquat Khan, a wholesale dealer in Sabzi Mandi, Islamabad.
He explained that the three vegetables are mainly being brought from Quetta, Mansehra, Swat and Gilgit, whereas other seasonal vegetables come from Hazro, Taxila, Jahangira and Kamalia. Similarly, grapes, apples, mangoes and melons are brought from far-flung areas of Balochistan, Sindh, southern Punjab, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“Vegetables are also supplied to different cities in Punjab and Azad Kashmir from here. If this situation is prolonged, these areas would face further price hikes, all due to road blocks placed by the federal and Punjab governments in an attempt to hinder march participants,” Liaquat said.
Meanwhile, Zamir Gul, who has been working in Sabzi Mandi for the last 25 years, said this was the first time he has seen the market closed due to roadblocks. While pointing towards the deserted walkways, he said there would be little room to walk through the area on any other day.
With gloom in his eyes, he said that in the past, they used to observe Independence Day with great fervour and enthusiasm, but this year, they day was being marked in a manner more befitting a day of mourning due to the road blockages and uncertainty around the political situation.
He said that due to supply shortages, the prices of all consumer goods have already started hiking up by Rs10 to Rs15 per kilogram, and cautioned that prices could further increase if the prevailing situation persists in coming days.
Meanwhile, shoppers in some areas complained of shops running out of packaged products including milk and juices.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2014.
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