Small businesses in the vicinity of the National Stadium of Karachi fear losses of up to Rs10,000 per shop during the 10 days they have been asked to down shutters during the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Shipping containers have been lined up on Sir Shah Muhammad Suleman Road that starts from Civic Centre and ends at Qasim Umar Road flyover opposite the National Stadium to block traffic and lessen chances of a terror attack.
But local shopkeepers are worried over the loss of business as a result. “They think we are a security risk,” said Nasar Ijaz, a fruit vendor at one of the city’s famous marketplaces Al-Mashriq Centre. “I don’t know how I will manage to cope with no income for 10 days.”
The shopkeepers have been asked to remain closed till March 17, added Ijaz.
Another shopkeeper, who wished to remain anonymous, said he estimated each shopkeeper to make losses of between Rs5,000 and 10,000 due to the closure. “We pay for most of our supplies in advance. They came a few days ago but we won’t be open again till the [PSL] ends. In simpler terms, it is a loss and we will pay for it from our own pockets.”
It is not just the business owners who will be affected though, with most who work in these businesses also being deprived of their daily wages. Arshad Abbasi, one such temporary worker at a fast-food outlet, said while it was encouraging to see cricket returning to the city, care should have been taken to protect the interest of daily wage-earners.
“Cricket should definitely take place in Karachi,” he said. “It is nice to see people excited but what will people like me who depend on their daily wages to survive do for 10 days?”
Over 13,000 police personnel will be deployed across the city as Karachi hosts eight matches the National Stadium from March 9 to 17.
Karachi Traffic Police have released a detailed route plan for reaching the venue and the designated parking spots; the plan also shows which roads will be blocked for traffic.
Residents living in high-security areas will also have to face inconvenience. Sohail Ibrahim, who lives in the one of the residential apartments at Al-Mashriq Centre, said his life is regularly thrown off-gear by any high-profile event staged at the National Stadium.
“Be it the PSL or any other event at the Expo Centre, it has become a ritual to close down this market [and the route]. Doesn’t matter if it’s a two-day event or a five-day one, our area is blocked for free commuting,” he said.
However, not all shopkeepers and residents share the same sentiment. Syed Hasan Abbas, who owns a clothing store near the National Stadium, feels that the vendors and daily wage-earners shouldn’t mind sacrificing a bit for the country.
“If shops are being asked to remain closed for two or four days for a few hours then why cannot we do this for our country? [The PSL] shows the country in a good light so this isn’t doing much.”