As the pandemic begins to finally loosen its grip on the country, business owners of all sizes have let out a sigh of relief at the government’s lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions, heralding the provincial capital’s slow but welcomed return to normalcy.
This has led to the emergence and growth of new businesses across Karachi, while the wide-scale disregard for SOPs has put the city at the risk of another viral spread. But for now, it is joy that beams from the faces of the local business community and daily wagers, many of whom had to pack their bags and head home amid the morose times of Covid-19.
In this regard, Sindh Traders Union Chairperson Jamil Piracha told the Express Tribune that the economic situation in Karachi improved after the fourth wave of Covid-19 subsided and sanctions were eased.
“The small business community, shopkeepers and other business people are happy with the resumption of day-to-day business activities after almost two years of easing coronavirus-related restrictions. So employers have now started calling their workers back, which has in turn led to a decrease in unemployment,” expressed Piracha.
Elaborating on the matter, Karachi Traders Union Chairperson Atiq Mir said that Karachi is the largest city in the country. Thousands of people from across the country come to Karachi to work in various sectors. Covid-19 and the ensuing sanctions left thousands of people jobless as business hours were made limited.
As a result, many people were forced to become unemployed and people from inner parts of the country eventually moved back to their home towns. “Now that the virus has subsided and sanctions have been lifted, business activities have fully resumed and almost all of the workers who’d left for their home towns have also returned,” he told.
However, tremors of the past four waves of Covid-19 still continue to surge through the country, with many complaining about decreased purchasing power owing to increased inflation.
Owing to which, it is estimated that the profit margin of the businesses has also decreased by 70 per cent. Only expenses, staff salaries and household expenses are being met, lament local business owners. In this regard, Ahmed Attari, a local grocer, said that he has been experiencing a sharp decline in customers following the postcoronavirus resumption of his business.
“There is a drop in people’s monthly grocery purchase. Most people are now only buying necessary items on a daily or weekly basis,” told the grocer. Similarly, Riaz Bhutta, a mason, said wages have increased and most of the artisans from within the country who had gone home due to unemployment have now returned.
Whereas, Syed Laiq Ali, who works as a motorcycle mechanic, said that with the end of coronavirus-induced weekly closure and the increase in business activity, a large number of people now get their motorcycles repaired at night. Speaking in the same vain, Saif Ahmed, a hairdresser, said that hair salons get more work on Saturdays and Sundays than usual.
“Coronavirus-related sanctions had severely impacted the small business community for a year and a half. Now the business is slowly recovering, and the government should be mindful of that. They shouldn’t impose further sanctions and give us time to recover from the bruises of the pandemic caused in the last two years,” he told The Express Tribune.