West Kochi residents, businesses in a tight spot

Amid total lockdown, limited supply of essential items remains a key concern; spice traders in Koovapadam, Fort Kochi severely hitwww

Published: 11th August 2020 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2020 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

Police officials inspecting vehicles at Thoppumpady | file pic

Express News Service

KOCHI: Ever since a complete lockdown was imposed in West Kochi, its residents have been struggling to lead a normal life. The limited supply and availability of essential commodities in containment zones is their key concern.

“Supply of essential items has stopped in Fort Kochi and Thoppumpady areas. Mattanchery, which is our current source of supply, is bound to get exhausted in the coming days. There are also restrictions on the movement of goods as Thoppumpady bridge is blocked. The majority of shops remain closed and only a few grocery stores are open,” said Sunny L Malayil, a resident of Thoppumpady and president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

According to him, it’s been more than a week since the supply of essentials stopped in the Fort Kochi area. “Even labourers who are involved in clearing and export of cargos were prevented from going outside, which has had a negative impact on their livelihood. Around 90 per cent of the labourers who work at Cochin port are from the West Kochi area. Their absence has forced port authorities to work with limited staff, as a result of which movement of cargo has not been happening for the past three days,” said Sunny. However, despite the issues they face, a few residents from the area also lauded the efforts of the district and health authorities in enforcing stringent measures to curb the spread of the disease.

Spice trade affected    
Spice traders in areas like Koovapadam and Fort Kochi, which were witnessing good business prior to the lockdown, have been severely affected by the lockdown. Net Spice (Koovapadam), the biggest pepper exporter, has been closed for over a month now.  Kishore Shyam G, a 73-year-old spice trader from Mattancherry, questioned the practicality of the rules imposed by the authorities. “All shops are forced to close by 1pm as per the lockdown rules. However, processing and unloading of food spices takes time and can be completed only by 4pm. We are also forced to work with 25 per cent staff, as traders from areas like Palluruthy, Thoppumpady and Fort Kochi are not allowed to leave their homes,” said Kishore.   According to him, only 13 out of 113 spice shops are currently allowed to operate. Coconut oil, coir, hardware and textile shops are also among those who have been hit by the lockdown.

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