Businesses hit hard by districtwide shutdown

- GHANSHYAM GAUTAM, GULMI

Dec 16, 2016-

A prolonged districtwide shutdown is costing local traders Rs2 billion in lost business and the government more than Rs300 million in lost revenue daily, traders said. 

Opponents of a proposed amendment to the constitution to split Province 5 have launched a closure that entered its 16th day on Thursday. As the joint struggle committee has refused to call off the strike unless the government withdraws the proposed amendment, the situation is likely to worsen.  

Trade, business, transportation and development activities in the district have been hit, and it has made life difficult for daily wage earners, traders, farmers and the general public. More than 100 public vehicles that used to ply daily between the district headquarters Tamghas and Butwal, Kathmandu and Pokhara have been grounded. 

Traders said that they were incurring losses amounting to Rs1 million daily due to the indefinite strike. “It will badly affect entrepreneurs who have taken bank loans to run their businesses,” said Mahesh Kauchha, an official of the Western Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs Association. 

Daily wage earners have been the hardest hit by the districtwide shutdown. “It’s been 15 days and I have not been able to earn a penny,” said Prem Nepali, a worker at Tamghas bus park. “We are virtually unemployed. We have been forced to borrow to feed our families.” 

“The protesters have closed small factories, and they are at risk of shutting down permanently,” said Sardha Bhusal, proprietor of Maitri Dairy and Bakery. “We are having a hard time paying our employees as there is no business at all.”  

According to Durga Prasad Pandey, president of the Gulmi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the district is incurring losses totalling Rs2.24 billion daily due to 

the prolonged strike. “The government is losing Rs330 million in revenue daily.” 

The shutdown has also affected service seekers as all the government offices have been closed. “The construction work of big projects has been halted for an indefinite period,” said Narayan Pokhrel, president of the Nepal Contractor Entrepreneurs Association. “Fuel deliveries have also stopped.” 

More than a dozen political parties have expressed solidarity with the demonstrators. The protest movement that was concentrated at the district headquarters has spread to surrounding villages from last week. 

The struggle committee has appealed to all the workers and professionals for their support to intensify the demonstration, said Bhuwan Prasad Shrestha, coordinator of the committee and representative of the Nepali Congress.  “If the government fails to cancel its decision, we have decided to padlock all the government offices from Sunday,” said Madhu Krishna Panta, member of the struggle committee and representative of the CPN-UML. 

Published: 16-12-2016 08:50

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