KARACHI: Traders have raised eyebrows over increasing trend of extortion, robberies, kidnapping for ransom, target killing and power outages.
Forgone year proved to be full of difficulties for the traders of Karachi due to prolonged closure of markets for reasons primarily related to law and order. Surprisingly, the year 2010 began with a complete closure on January 1 to mourn the Bolton market arson incident which took place in the preceding year and the year concluded with a strike on December 31 on the call of different political parties to register their protest against proposed amendments to blasphemy laws.
Apart from the 52 weekly holidays, 48 days were lost due to strikes and mourning calls on account of deteriorating security situation of the city which reduced the working days by 100.
Expressing his concern over sheer absence of business-friendly environment in the city, Karachi Traders Action Committee Chairman Siddiq Memon said businessmen of the city have withdrawn investments worth billions of rupees from the market hence it had become really difficult for those traders who operated on leverage basis to continue business.
Memon also grieved over the death of traders due to violence, especially those killed in Shershah and raised eyebrows over the increasing trend of extortion, robberies, kidnapping for ransom, target killing and power outages.
Seconding the opinion of Memon and further adding to it, Karachi Traders Alliance President Atiq Mir said losses to properties owned by traders due to arson were colossal.
Traders bemoaned inflation due to which prices of goods became exorbitant and hence affected the purchasing power of a consumer and as a result sales plummeted.
Year 2010 was worst in terms of business than 2009, informed Memon and elaborated that due to a decrease in demand of clothes, shoes and artificial jewellery import of these items fell by 3,450 containers. Owing to a mammoth increase in the cost of doing business due to hike in electricity and petroleum product prices, several mainstream businesses and other ancillary firms present around the business districts were closed.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2011.