ISLAMABAD: Small business owners, especially vendors, in Chitral town have called upon the provincial authorities to take notice of punitive action being taken by government officials against small shopkeepers and vendors on different charges.
Mr Kifayat, senior vice president of the Chitral bazaar traders union, told ChitralToday on phone that for over a year checking of prices and quality of edible items had been carried out by the district administration and food department officials on a regular basis mostly targeting small shopkeepers and discriminating against vendors of food items.
These business owners do not have proper facilities and face hosts of issues. But the items they sell are checked regularly and the owners are fined and even detained. However, these officials never took action against those who supply these items to the shopkeepers of Chitral.
A few months ago, Food Safety and Halal Food Authority (SFHFA) opened its branch office in Chitral. Its officials have been checking shops and stalls and imposing heavy fines on the owners, he said.
The authority officials recently fined a teashop owner Rs25,000 for his workers not having hepatitis A and C clearance certificates. Another tea supplier’s shop was being sealed when office-bearers of the Bazaar union intervened and stopped them from doing so.
Mr Kifayat said without carrying out any test the officials of the SFHFA were fining the tea stallholder saying the colour of the tea was not in accordance with the specification.
He said the authority also had banned sale of live chicken weighing more than three and less than one kg. But these chicks are supplied from outside Chitral and if these were injurious to public health why they are being allowed entry at the tunnel, he added.
He said the officials discarded the chicken after collecting them from shops causing loss of thousands of rupees to the owners.
A shopkeeper from Goldur village had to quit his business when he was heavily fined for the second time leaving nothing with him to continue his work to eke out a living, a local told ChitralToday.
A group of SFHFA raided the kitchen of a bakery owner at Goldur Bypass Chowk. They had earlier asked the owner to install tiles on the floor of the kitchen which he has done.
“Today while the owner was not present, the officials sealed the kitchen,” the local added.
Mr Kifayat added that bazaar representatives held a meeting with the deputy commissioner and took up the issue with him. However, the DC said he was not authorized to intervene in the affairs of the SFHFA as its officials were appointed by the chief minister.
Mr Kifayat said the representatives of the union would again meet the DC on Monday to find a way out otherwise the traders would be compelled to launch a protest.