PESHAWAR, April 13: Traders in the provincial capital on Friday opposed closure of markets at 8pm in view of excessive loadshedding and said they would shut down their shops at the given time only if smooth electric supply was ensured to them from 8am to 2pm.
This was conveyed to the provincial government during an Energy Task Force meeting, which was called to discuss ways to implement the decisions of the recent National Energy Conference in the province.
Senior Minister Rahim Dad Khan chaired the meeting, where representatives of trader organisations and Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inspector General of Police Mohammad Akbar Hoti, Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Labour and Manpower Minister Sher Azam Wazir, Energy Secretary Zafar Iqbal, Peshawar Electric Supply Company Chief Engineer Latif Khan, secretaries and commissioners were in attendance.
Energy Secretary Zafar Iqbal told the meeting that the five-day week at government departments would save the country 700 megawatts of electricity and closure of markets at 8pm 250 more megawatts.
Pesco Chief Engineer Latif Khan said duration of loadshedding was eights hours in Peshawar, 10 hours in other cities of the province and 14 to 18 hours in rural areas.
He said the province faced 928 megawatts shortfall and if it increased, electric supply was suspended by the regional control centre in Islamabad. He said loadshedding crisis could be overcome if people cooperated with Pesco for efficient use of power.However, traders opposed market closure at 8pm and said terrorism and loadshedding had ruined their businesses and therefore, the government should help them out instead of further damaging their interests.
Senior Minister Rahim Dad said the entire nation suffered from power shortage, which could be managed by collective efforts and cooperation only. He said the decision about two weekly offs in a week would be taken in the next meeting of the cabinet, which would also consider the task force’s recommendations.
Senior Minister Bashir Bilour told participants that the government would take all decisions on the matter in the best interests of the people.
APP adds: Mr Rahim Dad said the government was taking pragmatic steps to overcome energy crisis but it was impossible to do so without the people’s cooperation.
“The government realises the losses faced by traders in the province due to energy crisis, terrorism and militancy,” he said, adding that power crisis was a issue affecting the entire country.
The minister said the government respected the opinion of trader community about two weekly holidays and would take only those decisions, which protected their and people’s interests.
Pesco Chief Engineer Latif said unnecessary use of electricity was contributing to more loadshedding and that the company was struggling to meet 928 mega watts of shortfall by observing eight to 18 hours of loadshedding.
Representatives of traders and SCCI said their activities were declining day by day due to excessive power cuts.
Senior Minister Bashir Bilour lauded traders for cooperating with the government and holding dialogues instead of agitating for resolution of their problems.
He said in view of the sufferings and losses of terrorism-affected traders, the government allocated Rs18 million for compensation of their damages.
Other participants, including minister Sher Azam, called for effective measures to curb power theft.