Bara traders await financial package to revive businessesArchive
PESHAWAR: Displaced traders of Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency are anxiously waiting for their early rehabilitation and financial relief package to revive their businesses in the militancy-hit tribal area.
These traders, living and running their businesses in parts of Peshawar, hope that the government would announce a comprehensive financial package for them so that they could shift their businesses from settled areas to their hometown.
During a visit to their bazaars located at Bata Thal, Sarband and Sango localities in the suburbs of Peshawar besides the areas bordering Khyber Agency, the traders told this correspondent that they had left their shops and workplaces in Bara about seven years ago as a result of the military operation against terrorists and were still waiting for the government’s support to return to their homes.
Many of them said that they had lost entire assets and shifted only family members to safer places, while at present they had no financial resources to restart business. They said that former governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan was approached several times through local elected representatives, but he also did not plead their case to seek financial support from the federal government.
The shopkeepers said that they had hired pieces of barren land along Bara tributary and constructed shops there. They said that they had also been paying a minimum monthly rent of Rs3,000 for a shop to the landowners and now they could not return to Bara unless their demands were met.
“Before leaving Bara we were paying Rs2,000 monthly rent of a shop there, but now the landowners are demanding at least Rs50,000 advance and Rs7,000 monthly rent for the same shops, which is beyond our resources. Monthly rent is also taken for five months in advance,” said a trader Karim.
They also said that because of ban on free movement of people due to security reasons the customers could not come to Bara bazaar in the prevailing situation. He said that the landowners and political administration should relax the new conditions to enable traders return to their area.
Jazbeer Singh said that the Sikh community’s shops were destroyed during the prolonged war and now his people were waiting for official support to return to Tirah valley and restart business activities there.
Other vendors, including Kamran, Shafiullah and Inamullah, also expressed similar views, saying that after dislocation from own hometown they had no permanent earning sources and waiting anxiously for reopening of Bara bazaar to seek jobs.
However, Bara Bazaar’s Anjuman-i-Tajiran joint secretary Mohammad Ayaz Afridi said that the unavailability of water and power supply was a major hurdle to the return of traders. He urged the government to provide interest-free loans to them on easy installments so that traders could revive their businesses.
He said that the former governor had visited Bara, but the traders’ representatives were not allowed to talk to him. He said that former political agent Shahab Ali Shah had promised to help them in getting financial assistance, but he also failed to do so. He demanded of the federal government to approve a mega uplift scheme for people of Bara on the pattern of ‘green transport scheme’ initiated in Punjab to enable them earn livelihood.
About checking of people, including traders, the security officials concerned said that the body search and ban on vehicles was a compulsion only to ensure security of people. “We are here to protect lives of people and the checking is meant to maintain law and order,” they said.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2016