LAHORE - Fair price shops of Sunday bazaars are using unfair means in order to fleece the consumers by hiding price lists issued by the Sunday bazaars’ market committees under the direction of City District Government Lahore as the vendors have been selling unhygienic and overpriced commodities allegedly under the cover of CDGL officials.

The rates of products, enlisted in the official rate lists showed a decrease in some seasonal vegetables’ prices, they have not been implemented by the authority concerned in almost all of the Sunday bazaars of the city but the vendors and stallholders were continuing overcharging and consumers were paying rates higher than the official ones.

Though the higher authorities were punishing vendors by imposing fines and canceling stalls of some shopkeepers on account of overcharging in violation of the rate lists and selling substandard and low quality daily use products especially the edibles but some consumers suggested the punishment as a check or accountability of the vendors is insufficient according to severity of the act of such stallholders who are contributing diseases among the citizens by selling unhygienic edibles which was a criminal negligence and they must be taken up as criminals. Whereas, the authorities are imposing fines of some hundred rupees on them in their performance sheets which seemed a ‘joke’ with the consumers.

Although Sunday markets have been known to offer good quality commodities at fair prices, the situation has changed as only substandard fruits and vegetables adorn Sunday bazaar stalls now. Further, the administrators increased prices of 13 vegetables while reviewing the weekly rates which also marred the worth and usefulness of these Sunday bazaars for the citizens and especially for the regular consumers.

Despite the district government’s orders, many shopkeepers do not display price lists on their shops, and many of them failed to admit that they were selling poor quality goods, saying that their customers were satisfied.

In Shadbagh, Shalimar, Johar Town and Model Town Bazaars no senior official was seen controlling the bazaar and the visitors were at the vendors’ mercy, compelled to buy low quality products.

Many Sunday market visitors opined that these bazaars required senior officers’ constant attention otherwise consumers would continue to be cheated in the interest of selfish profiteering. Residents of above said vicinities demanded the administration to take strict action against vendors selling low quality fruits and vegetables at high rates.

A stallholder, Faqeer Hussain said that selling at low prices was difficult because of various cost expenditures like transportation and cleaning of the food items. “If we are buying at exorbitant rates from the wholesale market, how can we sell at a low price?” he added.

A Sunday bazaar consumer Asad said that there was no price control due to the large conflict between the official and shopkeeper’s prices, adding that he made several complaints but concerned authorities did not take any action.

A consumer Farhat Bibi complained that shopkeepers were free to demand whatever price they wanted. “Buying from the Sunday market has become so confusing, if we want a fair price, the quality is terrible, and if we do not want to compromise the quality, then it is just unaffordable for us!” she exclaimed. On the other hand, the district government officials were of the view that managing Sunday bazaar on such a large scale was not an easy task. However, they affirmed that the price and food quality issue would be resolved soon.