Civic body mulling over closure of all markets, but not everyone is on board

Some traders are voluntarily downing shutters, but others suggest adapting to the new reality

July 02, 2020 11:47 pm | Updated 11:47 pm IST - Bengaluru

Traders on D.V.G. Road, Basavanagudi have closed their shops voluntarily.

Traders on D.V.G. Road, Basavanagudi have closed their shops voluntarily.

In the last fortnight, many traders in major markets and commercial hubs have been voluntarily shutting their shops or reducing the number of working days. With COVID-19 cases showing no sign of easing, the civic body is also contemplating taking stronger measures.

“We appreciate the voluntary closure of markets and crowded places by traders. With the cases rising, the civic body is contemplating closure of all markets in the city. A decision will be taken soon,” said BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar.

While K.R. Market and Old Pete area, including Chickpet and Avenue Road, have been marked containment zones and shut down by the BBMP, Malleswaram Commercial Association and a section of fruit-sellers at Singena Agrahara in Electronics City announced voluntary closure of their businesses. A section of traders at APMC Yard, Yeshwantpur have decided to work only three days a week, every alternate day.

“There has been a surge in the number of the COVID-19 cases in Malleswaram. We are seeing a bigger crowd than usual, especially after Chickpet was shut down. We are worried that our area will become the next hotspot. We thought it is best to shut down for a week to break the chain,” said Arun Kumar, secretary, Malleswaram Commercial Association. The market will be closed from July 1 - 6.

However, not all markets are seeing a consensus among traders. Of the 320 fruit and vegetable stalls in Singena Agrahara, nearly 120 shops have voluntarily shut down.

“To date, seven cases have been reported from the market. A section of fruit-sellers have shut shop. Others are carrying on, but taking all precautionary measures,” said Anand Kumar, a fruit-seller who has chosen to work.

While Vidyarthi Bhavan shut its dine-in services and a section of traders on the busy DVG Road have downed shutters, T.A. Saravana, president, Basavanagudi Traders Association, said the association was not in favour of shutting down. At APMC Yard, Yeshwantpur, too, traders are divided. “Traders of foodgrains and all other non-perishables have decided to trade only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from next week. We hope those trading in onions and other perishables trade during the other three days to prevent crowding,” said senior trader Ramesh Chandra Lahoti.

However, onion merchants, who had shut shop for most part of the lockdown, are not ready to restrict their trade.

Idrees Chowdhary, general secretary, Russell Market Traders Association, said the market was partially closed and he had not opened his shop since March last week. “The number of cases being reported from Shivajinagar is rising and is a cause for concern. Most of us have shut shop. We are still trying to convince the rest to do so,” he said.

However, many feel that stopping business is not a sustainable solution. “We have already suffered huge losses during the lockdown. Shutting down again will disrupt the business,” said Mohammed Nazim, director, Bangalore Commercial Association, an association of traders of Commercial Street.

Suhail Yusuf, secretary, Federation of Bangalore Traders' Associations, pointed out that the lockdown did little to prevent a surge in cases. “There is also no clarity on how long we need to be closed if we have to overcome this spike now. We have decided to take all precautions and do business, unless the government advises otherwise,” he said

The civic body is expected to take a call on the closure of markets in the city in the coming week.

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