The Punjab government has decided to impose a lockdown on all kinds of business activities – except for emergency and essential services – in Lahore on Sundays. The move comes as the provincial government aims to conserve energy amid the electricity shortfall.
Pakistan is currently undergoing another power crisis as the energy shortfall now exceeds 5,000 megawatts. There have been reports of up to 12 hours of load shedding in most cities across the country, whereas the situation is even worse in rural areas.
As a result, the government is imposing restrictions to conserve energy and reduce power outages. Lahore will observe Sunday as a closed day for all commercial markets, plazas, and shops including those of wholesale and retail, shopping malls, bakeries, confectionaries, offices, store rooms, godowns, and warehouses, etc.
On the other hand, medical stores and pharmacies, hospitals, laboratories, milk shops, petrol pumps, motorway service areas, and tire repair shops are exempted from the aforesaid restriction.
The energy crisis in Pakistan worsens as cities experiencing prolong power outages.
Peshawar, on the other hand, has to go through over 10 hours of power outages while the rural areas of the city facing undeclared power suspension. pic.twitter.com/SmhBktKN1P
— JB (@JBaghwan) June 13, 2022
The situation is similar in the federal capital where the authorities have directed that all markets will be closed by 9 pm. Meanwhile, marriage halls, marquees, wedding ceremonies, including any exhibitory lighting for marriage functions inside or outside the premises, and exhibition halls will be closed at 10 pm.
Lahore’s economic activities to suffer?
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, when he was the Punjab Chief Minister, has famously referred to Lahore as Paris which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Lahore too is famous for its rich cultural heritage and colorful marketplaces. The city also hosts much of Pakistan’s tourist industry with major architectural attractions.
While the restriction can mediate the energy crisis and electricity shortfall in Punjab, it can negatively impact business owners. Traders have raised concerns that the Sunday lockdown in Lahore will harm their sales. In 2018, it was estimated that Lahore’s contribution to the national economy is 11.5% and 19% to the provincial economy of Punjab.
The majority of the population has Sundays off from work. Therefore, they head to the shops on Sundays, which lead to higher sales for the shopkeepers. Furthermore, in the intense heat, people also prefer to shop at night. Now with shops closed during peak hours, traders are worried.