HYDERABAD: An effective shutterdown strike was observed in almost all areas of this city on Monday in response to a call given by the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) against exorbitantly high power tariff, taxes, levies and fuel adjustment charges making electricity bills unbearable for consumers of all categories.
Only some pockets of markets like Sarfaraz Bazaar, a part of Resham Bazaar, and New Cloth Market, were seen open.
All markets, bazaars, commercial outlets and shops remained completely closed in the city. No shops were opened in morning in the markets like Khokhar Mohallah, Gari Khata, Risala, Station Road and Lajpat Road, Saddar, Bohri Bazaar, Shahi Bazaar, Cantonment Shopping Centre, Mobile Market, Tayyab Complex, etc.
Some shops that were opened for a brief period of time did not have customers. Vehicular traffic remained almost off the road.
Nearly all business and trade organisations had announced their support to the HCCI’s strike call a day earlier.
The few shops in some markets were opened mainly due to some difference of opinion with the HCCI and personal complaints made by leaders of certain trade associations. The aggrieved leaders complained that the chamber had given the strike call without taking them on board.
HCCI leaders along with prominent businessmen and traders of the city gathered at Koh-i-Noor Chowk and set up a protest camp.
HCCI president Adeel Siddiqui also led a protest rally at the place.
Addressing the participants, he and other HCCI leaders said that running businesses had now become difficult due to constantly increasing cost of electricity as well as other utilities and essentially required facilities.
He said market were either facing closure or a no-customer situation due another factor, inflation.
Mr Siddiqui said that unannounced loadshedding had already been causing irreparable losses to the business and trade activities.
He pointed out that after the recent Rs20 per litre increase in petrol price had badly affected the export-oriented products’ industry, which was unable to compete with rivals at regional level.
He said that industries were facing closure and workers lay-offs.
He deplored that businessmen and traders were being discriminated against on a daily basis. He said he was glad to see the two communities having become united on one platform.
The HCCI chief urged the caretaker prime minister to withdraw increase in power tariff in the larger interest of the general public and national economy.
He noted that the requirement of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) was 900 megawatts but 700 megawatts was being provided to it, which was leading to the unannounced loadshedding.
He said that the ceiling of relief should be increased from 200 units to 400 electric units and all detection bills should be done away with. He called for introducing a mechanism to check power theft, causing around Rs600bn losses.
He thanked political parties, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, as well as the Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, for extending their support to the strike call to make it successful.