Fruit sales in Karachi dip as citizens’ boycott campaign on social media meets success

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KARACHI: As Karachi’s residents observe a three-day strike against fruit vendors for overcharging during Ramazan, the effect of the campaign, which began on social media, was quite evident on its first day on Friday.

The Old Sabzi Mandi on University Road is usually a crowded market and sees a lot of clogged traffic because of parked cars left behind by customers visiting to buy fresh fruit and vegetables after work, but on Friday afternoon, the market was largely empty.

“I’ve only had a few customers since morning,” Abdullah Jan, a fruit vendor told. “All I have been doing today is keeping flies off my fruits with my handkerchief.”

Jan was unaware that there was consumer strike because he said he had not had the opportunity to watch TV for the last few days.

As he spent time swatting the flies away, the only customers who did approach Jan’s stall were those returning from a nearby mosque after Friday prayer.

Tariq Mirza was among them. He conceded that prices were lower, saying earlier a dozen bananas were being sold for Rs160 but on Friday they cost Rs100.

Mirza said he believed such strikes could help but maintained that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure that vendors sold fruit in compliance with the price list.

Zafar Hussain, who is observing the strike, said he was only at the market to buy mangoes for his grandson and nothing else.

“Sadly, there will be no fruit chaat in my house for three days,” he added with a laugh.

Fruit vendor Gul Muhammad explained that vendors were only selling at increased prices because they were being charged higher at the wholesale level.

“Everything is overpriced in this country. The public should protest against everything then,” he said.

The situation was similar in various markets throughout the city – only a few people, who may be unaware of the strike, were seen purchasing fruit from vendors.

The boycott has however met with mixed reactions from the public. Some ardently support it.

Others, including prominent personalities, feel it targets poor sellers instead of wholesalers and retailers who are the real culprits behind excessive prices.

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