ISLAMABAD: Cases will be lodged against traders who fail to comply with the government’s decision to close down markets by 8pm, The Express Tribune learned on Tuesday.
Officials said that the government had issued a ‘zero tolerance’ policy after no market followed the directive aimed at conserving energy. The government had announced the decision of shutting down markets by 8pm this past weekend. Deputy Commissioner (DC) Aamir Ali Ahmed told The Express Tribune that teams headed by different assistant commissioners and magistrates will visit markets and ensure the implementation of the decision.
“First we intend to fine traders who are not following the deadline. If they fail to comply, cases could also be registered against them.” A police force has been asked to accompany the district administration officials visiting markets in the evening. A senior police official told The Express Tribune that police had been put on high alert to thwart any untoward situation in case of resistance from traders. Earlier, the Islamabad district administration had adopted a relaxed approach towards traders, even allowing them an unofficial extension of the 8 pm deadline.
“We had preferred dialogue instead of using force,” DC Ahmed said. The DC said 15 teams had been constituted to engage the traders in dialogue, hoping they would follow the decision. The new measures have come about after the dialogue failed to end the deadlock. Representing the views of the traders, Jinnah Super Market President Malik Rab Nawaz said they were not comfortable with the situation. “The government must consult with traders before taking such a decision.
We could present a more suitable suggestion that would benefit the parties, government and traders.” Another traders’ leader Ajmal Baloch said closing down shops by 9 pm was acceptable to them, provided power is not cut till that time. Officials within the IESCO disclosed that load shedding will be observed from 8 pm to 10 pm in all markets to force traders to close down their shops. Traders, however, are retaliating by running their business in the evening with the help of generators. Adviser to Prime Minister Ghazanfar Gul told The Express Tribune that once the government had taken a decision, the traders should follow it without any delay.
“The government has adopted the strategy to preserve energy in the larger interest of the nation.” Gul rejected the reservations of the traders that the decision had been taken in isolation. “The government is not bound to consult anyone before taking a decision, since it comprises public representatives and wouldn’t think against the interest of the citizens.” He urged the traders to cooperate with the government and follow the decision.