CHATTOGRAM: Traders of the port city urged the government not to impose a fresh lockdown after the ongoing week-long shutdown that ends on Tuesday and allow the reopening of malls and supermarkets from Wednesday.
They also threatened to go for a 'movement' and keep shutters of all markets and shops open defying the directives of the government if it decides to impose a new lockdown and restrictions, including the closure of malls and shops.
The warning came from a joint meeting of the city's market, malls and shop owners associations on Sunday night.
Teri Bazar Merchants' Association president Mohammed Aminul Islam chaired the meeting, attended by leaders of almost trade bodies of the city, including Biponi Bitan Bonik Welfare Samity (association), Tamakumundi Lane Bonik Samity, Teri Bazar Merchants' Association, Reajuddin Bazar Merchant Association, Golam Rasul Market Bonik Samity, Teri Bazar Traders Welfare Association, Moti Tower Traders Association.
Speakers at the meeting said the government decided to keep garment factories and other industries out of the purview of the current and the previous seven-day long nationwide lockdown, forcing supermarkets and malls to remain closed for over two weeks before and during Ramadan when sales at shops and malls pick up.
Urging the government to keep the city's all supermarkets, malls and shops open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day, the speakers said if these trade entities are not allowed to open during the remaining part of the Ramadan, their business will close incurring irrecoverable loss, putting their livelihood at stake.
They said thousands of staff and employees work at the city markets and shops whose fate will become uncertain as the owners won't be able to give their monthly or weekly wages, let alone the Eid bonus, as earnings of the business establishments will be stopped for the shutdown.
They noted that amid the first and the second phases of lockdowns, the market owners had to pay staff salary, utility bills and other taxes while the shop owners had to pay employees wages, shop rent, duties and bills while not a single farthing came from their business.
Moderated by Teri Bazar Merchants Association secretary Abdul Manan, the meeting was addressed by Tamakumundi Lane Bonik Samity president Mohammed Abu Taleb, its general secretary Ahamed Kabir Dulal, senior vice president Sarwar Kamal, vice president Md Selim and joint secretary Mojammel Haque, Biponi Bitan Merchant Welfare Association president Mohammed Sagir, Reajuddin Bazar Merchants' Association president Md Abul Kashem, Golam Rasul Market Bonik Samity president Rintu Barua, its general secretary Mohammed Akber, Moti Tower Traders Association president Md Jamal Uddin, its general secretary Mohammed Abdul Khalek, Teri Bazar Merchants Association senior vice president Belayet Hossain, vice presidents of Teri Bazar Traders' Welfare Association Md Nasir Uddin Chowdhury and Md Liakot Ali and its joint secretary Abul Mansur.
Leaders of the shop employees association and other trade bodies were present at the meeting.
On the other hand, Jubilee Road Merchants Association organised separate meetings also on Sunday evening and announced their support to the call for reopening the markets from Wednesday. They also declared their support for a movement, threatening to defy government's order to shut their malls and shops if their entities were put under a new lockdown.