LAHORE - Hundreds of small traders and shopkeepers staged strong protest demonstration against massive power outages here at Regal Crossing at The Mall road on Wednesday afternoon, demanding the government to immediately end the menace of load shedding from the country. On the other hand, the LCCI has convened an emergent meeting of all trade bodies including Chambers in Punjab on Thursday (today) to evolve future strategy in the wake of massive power outages that are spoiling the economic fabric of the country. Hundreds of traders, shopkeepers and leaders of trade unions from various parts of the City gathered at Regal Crossing and staged strong protest demonstration against 18-hour power breakdown and imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT). The protesters blocked the road by setting the tyres on fire, disrupting the traffic flow at the leading artery of the City for a considerable time. The protesters said that the government has completely failed to improve power supply in the country and is putting extra-burden on the already inflation-hit public in the form of VAT on the directions of International Monetary Fund. Later, they also took out rally under the aegis of Mall Road Traders Association against the load shedding and VAT. The protesters were carrying placards and banners inscribed with demand of immediate end to load shedding and withdrawal of proposed VAT. They also chanted slogans against the government for increasing power tariff manifold and putting extra-burden on the already inflation-hit public. Long queues of vehicles were witnessed in the entire locality, as the motorists remain trapped on the roads due to strong protests. Addressing the rally, President Mall Road Traders Association Naeem Mir strongly rejected the Value Added Tax and criticised the government for multiplying the miseries of the masses on the directions of IMF. The traders of Hall Road, Panorama Center and Neela Gunbad also spoke on this occasion. The protesters said that the so-called democratic government has badly failed to address the genuine problems being faced by the people. The protests also led to worst traffic mess in the congested locality as the police diverted the traffic flow towards the already packed routes. Heavy police contingents reached the spot to maintain law order situation. Meanwhile, the LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, Senior Vice President Ijaz A. Mumtaz and Vice President Faisal Iqbal Sheikh said that the meeting had been convened to give a clear message to the government that in the existing scenario of huge power cuts it was not possible for both the trade and industry to survive and it would have to take appropriate measures in the larger interests of the economy of the country. The LCCI office-bearers said that a large number of small and big industrial units had already curtailed their operations while hundreds of industrial workers had lost their jobs and if the situation remained the same for quite some time it was bound to create multiple problems for the government. They said that they were unable to understand that why the govt was not taking measures to avail alternate energy generation options available to it in the shape of huge coal reserves, vast windy areas and solar energy. They said that power outages were hitting the industrial production hard and the industrial units were facing difficulties in fulfilling their exports orders and were fast losing their share in the international market.