ISLAMABAD - As the rumours of sealing the capital to avert Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) long marches surfaced, the markets ran out of fruits and vegetables causing huge panic among the citizens. Capital residents had to queue to buy basic kitchen items at double prices even from the Sasta bazaars.
Most of the stalls in Capital's G6 Sunday market had already been wrapped up Sunday afternoon. Few stalls, which were open, were thronged with impatient customers, yelling to get basic commodities for their kitchen.
“Please give me first. I am standing here since long,” Zohra Bibi said, who wanted to buy tomatoes before they were finished. The shopkeeper after some time attended her amid loud noise from other buyers. "Don't give me rotten tomatoes. Replace them,” demanded Zohra, but she was snapped back by the shopkeeper with a sharp and angry voice, "You should be thankful of even getting that. Stop complaining of quality,” he said with a furious look in his eyes. A feel of insult spread all over Zohra's face but she contained herself from showing any reaction.
“There is no other option of purchasing basic kitchen items. He is selling tomatoes for Rs80 per kg which is being sold for Rs100-120 per kg in the market,” she lamented in a depressed voice.“A couple of weeks back, during Ramazan and Eid, I had to buy tomatoes from the local market and paid up to Rs200 for one kilo of tomatoes,” she continued.
Zohra's husband, the only bread earner, is an attendant at CDA hospital and earns Rs18,000 per month. The mother of four school goers is also having an ailing mother-in-law at her house.
“We, the residents of Islamabad, are forever the victim of hoarders; either it is any festival or agitation, the prices shoot upward, regardless of the fact that which party is ruling, the situation remains the same,” she said. Till August 7, the tomatoes were sold at Rs35-40 per kg in Sunday market, but as political temperature rose, the prices went up during a single night, she said. Not only Zohra but most of the customers present at the market seemed disappointed. “For last few years, the country’s capital has become a hub of agitations; either it is lawyers’ long march or other protests. The local administration, without storing basic commodities seal the capital and we are exploited by the shopkeepers,” Asad Khan, a resident of G6 quarters complained.
Due to the fuel shortage and closure of roads last week, the prices of fruits and vegetables soar in capital markets. This hike was fuelled after administration started placing containers in the capital at various places including the exit and entry points of City.It is worth mentioning that Sunday markets are being run in direct supervision of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), but no CDA official was present at the markets on Sunday.The situation worsened in Sunday markets where tomatoes were sold at the rate of Rs100-120, ladyfinger surged to Rs90 from Rs50.
Potatoes were sold at a price of Rs80 per kilo, against the previous price of Rs50 per kilo. Lemon rose to Rs200 from Rs120, while the prices of garlic and ginger were also increased up to Rs100 per kilo.Bitter gourd price was almost doubled and was sold at Rs80 per kilo. Tinda’s price rose up to Rs70 per kilo. A few days back, it was sold for just Rs35-40 per kilo.
Likewise, apple and mangoes were sold at Rs100 and banana was sold up to Rs200.“What can we do?” Ghulam Agha, a seller at Sunday market said, adding “We are getting expensive supplies from main market.”Contrary to the claim of stall owners, the main market sellers said there was no shortage of supplies.
“There is no shortage of vegetable or fruit and supplies were smooth till Monday. It is simply an artificial hike,” said Agha. “One crate of Mangoes (10-12 kg) is available at Rs 250-500, depending upon the quality", he said.
Apple is available at Rs400-800 per 20-kg crate and tomatoes crate of 1012 kg (One tone) is Rs300. Other sellers said that the supplies coming from KPK, Quetta and southern Punjab were smooth, but the supplies coming from areas adjacent to Lahore were halted. It is the responsibility of local administration to control and check prices but no official was available to comment on the issue.Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Mujahid Sherdil, while talking to Nation, said that the rumours of sealing capital panic people which results in increasing demand of such commodities and the wholesalers take advantage of the situation.
He said that price hike, in Ramazan, was due to hoarding by whole sellers, adding that the local administration not only fined businessmen up to Rs30,000 but also sent some to jail.
Sherdil said that his team would visit markets from 13th, and hoarders would be dealt with maximum punishment.