Pakistan`s Punjab provincial government has decided to impose a complete lockdown in its provincial capital Lahore on Sundays on all kinds of business activities in a bid to conserve energy and reducing power outages. The decision was taken after special policies and steps were introduced to conserve energy including restrictions for market timings to 10 p.m., rescheduling of working days per week to 5 days, in which, Friday to be a work-from-home day and now imposing lockdown on all business activities on Sundays except for emergency and essential services in Lahore.
“Sunday will be observed as a closed day for all commercial markets, plazas, shops, including those of wholesale, and retail, shopping malls, bakeries, confectioneries, offices, store rooms, godowns, warehouses etc in Lahore”, read a notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Lahore Omer Sher Chatha.
However, the business community is not happy with the decision and highlighted that such steps would encourage corruption among the police and the shopkeepers, who take and give bribes to open their shops respectively.
“We have no reservations about the closure of Sundays. However, such restrictions would encourage corruption as police officials received bribes from traders and shopkeepers and allowed them to open their businesses during the Covid-19 lockdowns,” said Abdul Razzaq Babbar, General Secretary, All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran.
On the other hand, small shop owners and traders say that they get better sales on Sundays, insisting that shops should be allowed to stay open.
“We achieve better sales during Saturdays and Sundays as most offices are closed and people head to the shops,” said Muhammad Asif, a small shop owner in Lahore.
While the decision has opened up a debate among the traders, the district administration has constituted a special teams comprising Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL) and other agencies to ensure closure of all commercial activities in the city at the notified time.
The decision is part of Pakistan`s ongoing economic and energy crisis, which has caused major power outages. Citizens are unhappy and have been arguing that they are forced to pay for expensive per unit charges of electricity, and are also forced to suffer to power outages, which have stretched to about 12 to 16 hours per day.