District admin issues new timings for Islamabad’s shopping centres

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Markets, to close by 9pm, wedding halls by 10pm while restaurants directed to wind up by 11:30pm

Zubair Qureshi

The Islamabad Capital Territory Authority (ICTA) has decided to limit the operational hours of markets, shopping malls, wedding halls and restaurants with an aim to reduce energy consumption and tackle the current energy crisis.

Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon on Sunday shared the notification issued by his office early in the morning that stated that all shops, shopping malls, bakeries and confectionaries, offices, storerooms, godowns, warehouses and cattle markets would close at 9pm. Further, the timings of marriage halls, marquees and exhibition halls would be limited to 10:00pm.

All establishments (commercial or industrial), restaurants, clubs, tandoors, eateries, cafes, cinemas, theatres or other places of public amusement and public parks would close at 11:30pm, it added.

However, hospitals and laboratories, clinics, pharmacies and medical stores, petrol pumps, milk shops and other essential businesses were exempt from following the timings.

The notification also detailed the reasons for the move and stated that the order would come into force “with immediate effect” and would remain in place for two months.

The DC noted that the electricity demand had increased as a result of the current hot weather the country was experiencing which was subjecting critical infrastructure to extended loadshedding.

The notification stated that it was “necessary to enforce certain restrictions on non-essential businesses so that this prevalent emergency of the energy shortfall may be controlled in Islamabad Capital Territory”.

Earlier, Sindh and Punjab had also limited business timings as part of an energy conservation drive.

The federal cabinet had on June 7 decided to take effective measures to reduce load shedding by conserving energy and prevent and minimize the impacts of anticipated energy shortfall in the country through a national strategy.

The residents of Islamabad and shopkeepers have welcomed the government’s initiative to tackle the energy crisis and assured they would follow the schedule.

“It would also make us responsible citizens and we shall do all the day’s shopping within the given schedule,” said Ashraf Khan a resident of F-8 when asked to comment on the new schedule for businesses.

A shopkeeper Ghafoor said the new timing would also regularize the timing of the market and shopkeepers who usually come late to their outlets in the federal capital will arrive early and leave early as well. Khawar Zaman, a cloth merchant, said in the western countries and in China too, there are fixed hours for shopping malls and business points and citizens there strictly follow these hours. Let’s hope this schedule will remain in place even after the energy crisis is over, he said.