CHITRAL - On the call of Trade Union president Shabir Ahmed, all the traders, shopkeepers and vendors started a shutter-down strike in Chitral saying that the protest would continue until acceptance of their demands.

Meanwhile, the drivers' union also announced to observe a strike in solidarity with the traders. All the bazaars, markets and other business centres, including vegetable and fruit shops, remained closed.

Traders Association president Shabbir Ahmed told the media that the bazaars lacked basic facilities, but the local administration had been harassing shopkeepers and sealing their business centres on different excuses without providing them the facilities they needed.

Shabbir Ahmed later told a gathering of protesters at PIA Chowk that the admin had been meting out injustices to the traders for long. First, the traffic movement was made one-way in the bazaar area which badly affected shops and other business located inside the bazaar and then the administration started imposing fines on the allegation of substandard and expired items being sold in shops causing losses to the shopkeepers, he added.

He added the bypass road lacked a drainage system while the bazaars were facing shortage of water, electricity, and lack of cleanliness. "There is also no solar power arrangement and the administration has embezzled around Rs9 million under the garb of installing solar power panes in the area." He also complained that there was even no facility of washrooms for the public in the bazaar. He said the administration was sealing shops without any notice or listening to the traders and shopkeepers. "Due to no streetlight in Bazaar, stray dogs roam after evening and people face a lot of problems."

He said without carrying out a laboratory test, the administration officials were declaring different commodities of daily use as expired and minting money from the shopkeepers by imposing fines on them. As a result, the traders and shopkeepers have decided to go on the strike and if their demands are not met the strike would be extended to other areas including Drosh and Booni.