KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan has urged shopkeepers of each and every commercial market across Karachi to strictly adhere to all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) during the ongoing shopping season of Eid ul Fitr as any negligence towards these SOPs would create a disastrous situation, which was already too bad as the number of COVID-19 infected people continues to rise across the country.

“It’s good to make profits during the shopping season which would help in recovering some of the previous losses caused by the lockdown but these profits must not be earned at the cost of someone’s precious life. Hence, being patriotic and sensible citizens, it is the responsibility of all the shopkeepers to play their due role by ensuring complete compliance of the SOPs while the citizens must also be very careful and take necessary precautionary measures so that we all could collective battle against the life threatening coronavirus pandemic and save our country from further disaster”, he added.

In a statement issued, Agha Shahab pointed out that that thousands of people thronged shops and businesses across the metropolis during the first and second day of resumption of business activity while the SOPs devised by the Sindh government were seemingly swept to the side without any worry about the spread of the coronavirus. “Slackness towards following the SOPs by shopkeepers and customers may cause another lockdown which, if occurs, would lead to permanent closure of many businesses therefore, everyone has to act responsibly”, he cautioned.

He said that a lot of strenuous efforts were made by Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli and also by the Office Bearers of Karachi Chamber that resulted in convincing the Sindh government to ease the lockdown on a condition that the business community would strictly adhere to SOPs which were not that difficult to follow and obeying them would not only go in favor of humanity but also the businesses. Many shopkeepers were grossly ignoring the crucial SOPs and are only concerned about selling products to maximum number of customers which was not a wise move as it was not only risking the lives of customers but also themselves and their employees as everyone is equally and critically exposed to the life threatening COVID-19 which must not be taken lightly. “The ease in lockdown doesn’t mean that coronavirus is over. It’s a widespread misconception as the virus continues to threaten lives of the masses so we all have to be very careful.”

President KCCI further stated that all the sincere efforts made by Sindh Government to contain further spread of coronavirus pandemic would go wasted due to negligence towards the SOPs particularly the failure to ensure social distancing within and outside the shops/ business premises, which must not happen as it was neither in the interest of business community nor in favor of the economy and the nation. “The business community, particularly small traders and shopkeepers must act responsibly at any cost as we have already been through severe lockdown of almost two months that has already created lots of crises for the people, businesses and the economy. We cannot afford another lockdown but if the situation goes on like this and shopkeepers continue to ignore the SOPs, the government may find no other option but to once again impose another lockdown which we fear would result in permanent closure of many businesses”, he added.

President KCCI stressed that the coronavirus pandemic was not going anywhere and it was likely to stay with us for long hence, all the shopkeepers, small traders, industrialists etc. must revisit the way of doing business and reshape all their operations exactly in line with the SOPs and make them part of their routine which was the only way forward towards sustainable business activity. “No compromises should be made and every single stakeholder including the Federal and Sindh governments along with business & industrial community must be on the same page and long term National Sustainability Strategy has to be devised after thorough consultations so that the businesses and citizens could survive and get back to their normal lives in presence of coronavirus”, he added.