LAHORE / KARACHI: Public transportation between cities and between cities and 26 industries throughout Punjab will reopen starting Monday (today).
Punjab Minister of Law Raja Basharat has directed relevant officials to prepare SOPs for the Friday Prayers and Eid al-Fitr prayers in the province.
The directives came during a meeting led by Raja Basharat to review the situation arising in the province due to coronavirus. The meeting was also attended by Minister of Industry Mian Aslam Iqbal, Chief Secretary Jawad Rafiq and IG police.
The chief secretary told the meeting that security must be provided during Friday prayers and Eid al-Fitr, and added that violations of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would not be tolerated at any cost, Geo News reported.
The main secretary then instructs officials to ensure that all SOPs are followed in the market with the help of traders.
“In the case of non-compliance with SOPs, all markets must be closed,” he said. He said the market was only allowed to do business four days a week, whereas, they would remain closed for the remaining three days.
Shopping malls across Punjab will reopen starting tomorrow (Monday) after the provincial government gives the go-ahead to resume operations.
Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, on Saturday, said the overall situation in the province was satisfactory after the government allowed people to continue their daily business while observing SOPs.
The minister has said that the decision to reduce or increase restrictions will be taken while taking into account public responses during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister of Information has added that people can carry out their daily activities while making sure they follow the SOPs imposed by the government.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Transport Association Sunday announced that the standard operating procedures (SOP) given to them by the provincial government were impractical and feasible to run buses on the road.
SOPs issued by the government cannot be implemented to operate buses, said the leader of the Punjab Transport Association when giving a speech at a press conference in Lahore.
The caretaker office of the transport association said the bus could not be operated by carrying 50 percent of passengers according to the SOP, because that would bring them huge losses.
They said the government did not provide written SOPs. They demanded a toll tax cut and a one-year deferral of token tax.
They said the government had allowed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to increase tariffs but on the other hand, carriers were asked to cut tariffs by 20 percent in front of Eidul Fitr.
“We already did that but after that we were asked to accommodate one passenger in two seats. This cannot be accepted by us, because we cannot bear this huge loss, “they said.
Asmatullah Niazi, Chair of the Public Transport Association, said the bus will not be operated on Monday (today) until the government issues a new SOP. “We are in contact with all transportation organizations. There are no buses that will run / come on the road, “he added.
It is important to mention that on Friday, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has given the green light for the resumption of public transport services throughout the province, which has been suspended since the lockdown was put in place.
Buzdar has directed the relevant authorities to formulate SOPs for this purpose so that services can continue safely in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. He said restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus were being appeased to provide assistance to residents and people related to the transportation sector.
Karachi businessmen announced to keep their businesses open all the time when they vowed to oppose the government’s actions against them. They say that they cannot be killed by anti-government business actions and they are ready to fill prisons.
This year was the worst in terms of Eid sales in Karachi in history, because the coronavirus pandemic continued to hamper business and economic growth. All Karachi Chairmen Tajir Ittehad Atiq Mir thinks trade in this city Eid al-Fitr will almost cross the Rs10 billion limit.
Mir told The News that because of the economic slowdown last year, Karachi saw sales that barely reached Rs35 billion. However, he believes that this year’s loss will never occur before.
He pointed out that around 40 of the city’s main shopping centers were closed because they were centrally air-conditioned. “Novel Coronaviruses can spread quickly in centrally air-conditioned places.”
He said that business continued to suffer as 18 well-known business points in Karachi, most of which had been closed due to violations of standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Sindh government.
The head of the merchants association said there were hardly eight days left on Eid and they did not expect to make a major breakthrough in this situation.
“We cannot expect to see large purchases now,” Mir said, explaining that people’s purchasing power has plummeted. “90% of today’s purchases are baby clothes,” he said, adding that people only buy clothes for children in their families.
“Apart from children, generally, there are no elders in this family who get their clothes sewn or buy them readymade. Only because of the happiness of their children, families are limited to buying clothes, because they have no savings left because of a locking of two months. ”
He demanded that the government increase trading hours after Iftar. “Idul Fitri time is reduced,” he said, adding that the hours of work permitted by the government from 6 am to 4 pm were somewhat unreasonable and caused a rush of buyers.
“During the day, people feel suffocated in the market,” Mir said. “If the hours increase, buyers will not meet the market in large numbers.”
Meanwhile, President of the Cloth Traders Association Ahmed Chinoy told The Newsthat under normal circumstances, they estimated the trade was estimated at Rs 5 billion before Eid. However, because it is locked, he expects trade of less than Rs1 billion, which is an unprecedented low for Ramadan spending.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transportation Sindh Awais Shah said the province would allow the resumption of public transport services after Eid.
The development came a day after the Shah refused to resume transportation services, citing the increasing number of corona virus patients in the country and the “critical situation” in the province because cases, deaths and recovery continue to increase simultaneously.
Shah, speaking to Geo News, said: “[Sindh] has begun preparations for reopening public transport under Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). ”
Speaking of providing assistance to transporters, because public transportation had been closed because it was locked, he said a four-point summary had been drawn up for them.
“Summary sent to [Sindh] Chief Minister [Murad Ali Shah] and the final decision on this issue will be made at a meeting on Monday, “Shah said.
Meanwhile, Balochistan government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said the provincial government had not yet decided to continue transportation services.
Shahwani said Chief Minister Jam Kamal would review the situation in various districts and provinces as a whole, before making a decision. The day before, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab had desired to continue transportation services.
The announcement came after Prime Minister Imran Khan asked the provincial government to open public transportation.
The KP government has enacted a reopening of transportation starting Monday with the stipulation that the SOP on preventing deadly corona viruses will be followed by all who use transportation as well as operators.
The KP’s chief minister’s information adviser, Ajmal Khan Wazir, said the SOP that needed to be considered would be formed by commissioners in collaboration with regional transport and transport authorities and that the tariff would be revised based on new oil prices.