Amid protests, Sabzi Mandi shuts down indefinitely


Traders at the Wholesale Vegetable and Fruit Market, popularly known as the Sabzi Mandi, pulled their shutters down for an indefinite period.
During a demonstration followed by a press conference at the Sabzi Mandi, the traders said that all business activities at the market would remain closed until their demands are met by the authorities concerned. The traders have demanded that the murderers of their colleague Babar Hayat be arrested by the law enforcement agencies. Hayat, 35, a trader at the Sabzi Mandi, was gunned down allegedly by some extortionists on April 20. In protest against the murder of their colleague and the frequent criminal activities in the area, the traders at the market have decided to shut down the market as a last resort to highlight the issues being faced by them.
Addressing a press conference at the market, traders’ leader Zahid Awan said that despite the huge revenues generated through the trading activities at the wholesale market, nothing has been done to ensure a peaceful environment to the traders besides providing basic facilities.
“Despite the huge losses the traders would face due to the closure of their businesses, the decision was made to make their lives secure in the market area as extortionists and other criminals have endangered the lives of thousands of traders and labourers,” he said.
In connivance with the police high-ups in Sachal, Sohrab Goth and Gulshan-e-Maymar police stations, the criminals are freely looting the traders and labourers in the surroundings of the market.
Out of the estimated $550 million worth of fruit and vegetable exports, 50 percent perishable items are exported through the major wholesale market. At least 4,500 truckloads of goods come to the market daily from various parts of the country that are exported or supplied to over 18 million people of the metropolis.
“Both the exports and local supply would remain shut from Wednesday evening as no one from the government has bothered to notice the situation,” Awan said. “Though all the vegetables and fruits in the market may be wasted due to the closure of market, we are ready to bear the loss in order to highlight the security issues in the market.”
At least 80 police personnel were stationed at the market to ensure security initially but currently only 10 to 12 cops are present in the market without a mobile service or equipment, Awan said.
“As the police high-ups are involved in the criminal activities, only Rangers can provide security to the traders and daily wagers in the market,” he added.
Haji Shahjahan, another traders’ leader, said the Agriculture Ministry and other authorities concerned have not consulted the traders despite the days-long protest at the market. In a resolution passed by the traders unanimously, they demanded enhanced security in the market and its surroundings besides making several check posts and a police station in the area as well as infrastructural developments like service roads and boundary walls. They also demanded the arrest of the murderers of their colleague among other criminals who are snatching valuables at gun point daily from the people inside and outside the market. Earlier, hundreds of traders had protested outside the market to press for their demands.