Nepal | July 13, 2020

Traders defy lockdown as patience runs thin in Nepal

Himalayan News Service
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  • Durbar Marg shops to open from today
  • Other traders, businesses also defiant

KATHMANDU, JUNE 3

With no end in sight to the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 24 that has effectively halted all economic activities for the past two-and-a-half months, traders, firms and industries have begun defying restrictions and resuming their operations.

Clampdown on market activities and movement of people seems to be having little effect, as the coronavirus has spread rapidly, with a spike in the number of cases in recent weeks. Stating that the government has hardly done anything other than extending the lockdown and deepening their hardships, traders and businesses have gradually started defying the lockdown.

In fact, streets that used to be deserted a fortnight ago have started witnessing jams as mobility of people and vehicles has gone up in the recent days. Moreover, retail shops across the valley have reopened for business.

A number of convenience and department stores and other retail outlets in Jorpati, Chabahil, Gaushala, New Baneshwor, New Road and Ason were open since early this morning.

“We patiently supported the government by following lockdown rules for more than two months. However, the government has not come up with a plan to ease restrictions and let economic activities resume gradually as done by other countries,” said Anuja Pokharel, a wholesale dealer of mobile accessories in New Road.

She added that she was following social distancing rules at the shop.

Even traders at Durbar Marg — a major tourist destination — have decided to gradually resume operation from tomorrow. A meeting of Durbar Marg Development Board took a decision to this effect yesterday.

“Though we had repeatedly urged the government to change the modality of the lockdown and allow businesses to operate, the government has done nothing on that front. We have to restart our services to ensure sustainability of our lives and businesses,” said Rajesh Shrestha, first vice-president of the board.

Today, the National Federation of Trade and Commerce of Nepal decided to operate shops and other businesses across the country till 11:00am every day from tomorrow by adopting necessary precautions against COVID-19.

In case the government halts their operation, it should be responsible for financial liabilities of traders/ shopkeepers, including bank loan, rent and taxes, Anjan Shakya, general secretary of the federation, told THT.

The government last week extended the lockdown till June 14. A few days ago, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry had requested the government to review its lockdown extension decision and change the modality of the lockdown to allow enterprises and the market to gradually reopen.

Though government officials have been saying that discussion is under way to change the modality of the lockdown and allow economic activities to resume gradually, the government has not taken any decision in this regard so far.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 4, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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