Traders reject early market closure

Suggest switching to solar energy to conserve electricity

Traders of Lahore on Thursday rejected the government’s energy conservation plan of closing all markets by 8:30pm, calling the decision unjustified and unfair.

The National Economic Council (NEC) had on Wednesday decided closing all the markets across the country by 8:30pm in a bid to save energy. However, traders from across the country rejected the government’s decision and announced they would not implement these orders. While addressing the press conference at Lahore Press Club, traders belonging to Anjuman-e-Tajran Naeem group said that before taking the decision, the government had not taken them into confidence. They also announced a boycott of Indian products in a protest.

The traders said that there is no doubt that the power crisis is severe but that does not mean that commercial activities will be stopped, adding that the government should take decisions after consulting the major stockholders, trade bodies and associations. Naeem Meer group, traders’ body famous for its affiliation with PML-N, appreciated the government’s efforts, saying these were for the betterment of the business community.

However, they said the decision of closing markets was not a wise one. “Bureaucrats are misguiding the prime minister through wrong data regarding power utilization,” they said, adding that the government should take the traders on board prior to taking any decision in this context. Association’s Lahore President Shahid Nazir said that closing the markets at 10:00pm was quite normal and there was no issue of wastage of electricity. He said that due to the extremely high daytime temperatures it was impossible for customers to shop during the day.

“Present government shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the former government which used to ignore traders before taking such decisions,” Nazir said and suggested switching markets to solar energy to conserve electricity. “The government should provide free energy savers and solar panels to small traders while restricting large businesses to installing solar panels at their own expense,” he suggested.

Umer Javed Butt, president of Shah Alam Market, said that Eid-ud-Adha is only a month away and such festivals boost economic activities. “Traders always keep an eye on such festivals because they help in achieving their targets,” he said, adding that after the closure of markets by 8:30pm, it will be impossible to meet the annual targets. All Pakistan Traders Association President Khalid Pervaiz said that the traders’ organisations stressed the government take all the traders into its confidence about the timings of markets and shops’ closure. He said that the traders were buying the most expensive electricity from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Meanwhile, the government has ordered all the deputy commissioners to hold meetings with traders’ associations of their respective districts to close markets at 8:30 pm. They have been directed to ensure the implementation of the government decision.

Samiullah Randhawa is a correspondent covering environment, climate change, food, water and ecology. He is an International Center For Journalists alumnus and a fellow at Kettering Foundation Ohio, USA. He has won two Agahi Awards for reporting on climate change and water crisis. He tweets @sami_randhawa and can be reached at