CHENNAI: Traders from 1800 Koyambedu retail and semi-wholesale shops, which opened after a gap of seven months during the first lockdown, are again staring at uncertainty as the government has ordered their closure from April 10 following the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Struggling to eke out a living and trying to stabilise their losses, the traders who have been facing several problems after resuming operations will again have to look at other means of survival.
S Chandran, Market Management Committee Licensed Merchants Association President and Anaithu Sangankalin Kootamaipu general secretary, told The New Indian Express that traders will take a decision on the clampdown on retail trade after a meeting on Friday morning. "Since the business hours are over and most of the traders have returned home, we will be holding a meeting tomorrow to decide on it. The clampdown on retail trade will impact the livelihoods of many families who have already been impacted by the lockdown," he said.
Meanwhile, officials said it is not clear whether all 1860 retail shops will be closed or only some of them. "A final decision will be taken after holding a meeting," sources told The New Indian Express.
The retail trade in Koyambedu market was closed on April 27 and the entire market on May 5. The retailers were allowed to restart business on November 16 but with restrictions. Initially the business was dull but recently it was picking up, says Bhaskar, a semi-wholesale onion trader.
"I had lost Rs 5 lakh when the lockdown was implemented as I could not locate those who had purchased goods from me. Business was shut and I had to live on cash reserves which were depleting," he says.
He also hit out at officials, saying when the campaigning was on they did not impose any restrictions but now they are killing the business of the traders. "What will happen to our families? Last time, they did not provide us with any aid," he said.
Koyambedu Vegetable, Fruits and Flower Merchant Association president Thiagarajan told The New Indian Express that business has been hit badly due to COVID-19. "Only half of the business when compared to pre-COVID times is happening and at this juncture a clampdown on retail trade would impact the traders badly. Most of them had already downed shutters due to debts following seven months of lockdown," he says.
The government should understand the plight of the retail traders as it will impact thousands of families, said Thiagarajan.