Markets, shopping malls to close at 9pm in Sindh amid ‘energy crisis’

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Photo used for illustrative purpose.

The government of Sindh, Pakistan, has ordered all markets, wedding halls and shopping malls in the province to close their businesses at 9:00pm every day for a month in an attempt to conserve energy as the country faces a growing power shortfall.

On Friday, a notification issued by Home Secretary Dr Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo stated that all markets, bazaars, shops and shopping malls would have to close by 9pm. However medical stores, pharmacies, hospitals, petrol pumps, CNG stations, bakeries and milk shops would be exempted from the restriction.

The government has also ordered all the wedding halls and banquet halls to shut down by 10:30pm while all the hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes have been told to close by 11pm.

The government has cited “prevalent power outages, load shedding of the electricity” and the shortfall between supply and demand of electricity as the reason for its decision.

The order also refers to the June 7 decision of the federal cabinet for taking “effective measures to reduce loadshedding hours through conservation of the energy” and implementing a national strategy for tackling the energy crisis.

Pakistan faces around 6.5 gigawatts energy shortfall that has led to increased power outages across the country.

On June 7 at the meeting of the National Economic Council, the chief ministers of three provinces and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary representing CM Mahmood Khan agreed to the federal government’s proposal of closing markets earlier.

The order issued by the Sindh chief secretary hinted at a lurking danger to public order amid growing power shortages that may spark protests from the people.
The secretary said that he was issuing the order “in view of … [the] apprehended danger of the energy shortfall in the country and in the larger interest of the general public to ensure their safety and to prevent nuisance and in order to avert the adverse impacts stated supra.”

The notification also authorised Station House Officers (SHOs) to register complaints against people who violated the directives under section 188 (disobedience of order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The SHOs will register complaints under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code against people violating the order while “any violation of this order shall also invite action under Section 33 of the National Disaster Management Authority Act 2010 by the respective district administration,” the order warned.

Meanwhile, K-Electric, the provincial capital’s power utility, had announced that it would carry out three hours of loadshedding daily in the city’s so-called exempted, or low-loss, areas.

Consumers living in so-called low-loss areas within KE’s service territory were earlier exempted from loadshedding.

A few days ago federal ministers urged the nation, especially traders, to adopt austerity measures to reduce wastage of fuel and electricity.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said traders must accept the new business closure timings proposed by the federal cabinet to reduce electricity consumption and fuel usage.

Agencies

 

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