Karachi businesses and industries hit hard by urban flooding

Industrial production fell by 20 to 50% due to urban flooding

The businesses and industries in Karachi were recovering from adverse effects of lockdown imposed to contain the COVID -19 pandemic, when hit hard again by urban flooding. After facing the coronavirus for nearly four months, the traders, businesses and industries are braving the heavy monsoon rains throughout the month of August.

The rain water inundated the most of commercial and industrial areas in the largest city of Pakistan. Trading activities in Karachi especially wholesale and retail markets came to a halt for several days as shopkeepers could not pull up their shutters owing to devastating rains.

The industrial output fell to 20-50 per cent of its total capacity as workers were absent from their respective units due to the torrential rains. Traders said the movement of goods from port to markets and up country and arrival of goods from up country had remained suspended for couple of days.

Leading industrialist Zubair Motiwala told to Dawn newspaper that “this is a disastrous situation; I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime. Everywhere there is only water, everywhere! There is nothing else, no power, machines have drowned, and even those locations where we have never seen flooding in the last 40 years are today inundated. SITE area, one of the country’s largest industrial zones was shut altogether.

 No production and no idea of the loss, it is too soon [to calculate],” he said. In his own factory, there were 18 inches of water, “and this despite the fact that we built a foot high water barrier using sand bags around the plant.” In one factory he said, the water height was eight feet.”

Site Association of Industry President Suleman Chawla said only 25 per cent of labour arrived at units while night shifts were also cancelled owing to lack of staff.

F.B. Area Association of Trade and Industry President Abdullah Abid said industrial output decreased by almost 50pc while industrialists asked workers to go home after 2pm. He also said that night shifts were cancelled on Thursday.

According traders leaders from different markets said that many shops in the old city areas were filled up with three to four feet of water but the situation got worse after 5pm as heavy thunderstorm and rains battered the city. The traders in various markets were facing severe problems ever since the monsoon spell intensified in August.

Old city area markets feed the entire city and up country as bulk of imported finished and raw materials arrive from ports for onward distribution to the rest of the country. The goods, following their arrival on ports are stored at go downs located on the M.T. Khan, I.I. Chundrigar and Maripur which are closer to the wholesale markets. He said traders have suffered huge inventory losses especially in old city area markets.

Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association Chairman Anis Majeed said around one feet of rain and sewerage water had entered Jodia Bazar shops due to heavy flooding at I. I. Chundrigar Road and City Court areas.

He said he could not share details on inventory losses at shops as markets would remain close from Friday to Sunday. The situation regarding rain water at the godowns and warehouses situated 10kms away from Hawkes Bay and Site Area from Jodia Bazar was under control but he said he cannot say anything with certainty since rain had intensified after 6pm.

He said old city areas had suffered inventory loss of Rs3-4 billion on Thursday alone as traders hold huge stocks at shops and nearby do downs which were inundated with rain water.

                                                              Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor





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