SIALKOT - Hundreds of Sialkot-based perturbed traders, industrialists and exporters on Friday took out a protest rally and paraded main city roads against "what they called" unbearable and forced electricity loadshedding in export-oriented Sialkot city.

The rally started from the grand building of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Paris Road and ended at Small Industrial Estate after passing through all main inter-city roads. SCCI President Sheikh Abdul Majid led the rally. The participants were holding banners and placards and were chanted slogans against the unbridled power loadshedding which has ruined the industry.

Later, the protesting businessmen staged a sit-in in front of Gepco offices in Shahabpura for about one and half hours. Due to the sit-in vehicular traffic remained block on almost all main and link inter-city roads, causing severe difficulties for the public.

Talking to the newsmen, SCCI President Sheikh Abdul Majid claimed that there was 35 percent decline in Sialkot's total exports due to the ongoing fresh spell of 20 to 22 hour long power outages, adding that the export-oriented industry had crippled totally by the worst power cuts.

He said that the unscheduled haunting power outages had brought the industrial production to a halt, hampering export consignments virtually. The exporters are unable to ensure timely dispatch of their export consignments to foreign destinations because of unending power outages, he lamented, adding that foreign buyers were cancelling their export orders worth millions of dollars placed to Sialkot exporters and the buyers were diverting these orders to India, Taiwan and China due to the power outages.

The SCCI chief regretted that thousands of daily-wage industrial workers were being rendered jobless due to this unavoidable situation, as the industrial wheel was not moving ahead.

He termed the prevailing electricity loadshedding as unbearable and forced in the export-oriented Sialkot city due to which the industry was on the verge of collapse.

On the occasion, Chief Coordinator Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Ejaz A Khokhar said that today's march of Sialkot exporters was an SOS call to rulers to save the export-oriented industries of Sialkot from destruction, saying that 20 to 22 hour long forced loadshedding of electricity on a daily basis had crippled the Sialkot industrial sector. Sialkot exporters demanded immediate end to the loadshedding or any special relief for Sialkot industries.