Shops, markets and commercial establishments in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad will now close at 9pm, according to a recent notice issued on Saturday. The decision was taken by the civil authorities to save electricity amid the impending energy crisis in the country.
The administration of Islamabad has implemented the closing of the business time regime within Islamabad’s revenue limits. All interested parties should note 👇👇 pic.twitter.com/eey9vx20Sl
— Office of Deputy Commissioner Islamabad (@dcislamabad) June 18, 2022
The deputy commissioner of Islamabad, Irfan Nawaz Memon, shared the warning on Twitter limiting business hours for business activity in the city. Under the new rule, shops, markets, wedding halls, clubs, cafes, cinemas and public parks will operate on a limited operating basis until the early hours of the night.
Although commercial entities have been asked to close at 9pm, wedding halls and exhibitions can only be kept open until 10pm. Other public recreational facilities, such as cinemas, will only be open until 11:30 pm. However, essential services such as vegetable markets, dairies, pharmacies, clinics and hospitals and workshops would be exempt from the new rule.
The order, which will be in effect for the next two months, came after the district magistrate noticed a sharp increase in electricity consumption due to the hot weather in the city. “The whole of Islamabad is facing severe power outages because of the lack of electricity,” the notice mentioned.
The order called for there to be an ‘urgent need’ to carry out business activities in broad daylight without adversely affecting business activities ‘so that electricity remains available for critical establishments’ – the note read.
Amid the country’s looming energy crisis, Islamabad followed suit after the states of Sindh and Punjab already took similar steps to shorten business hours in the name of an energy conservation campaign. Earlier on Saturday, the Punjab state government announced the closure of business activities across the province at 9pm.
On Friday, the government of Sindh also announced the limitation of the operating hours of commercial entities in the province due to the prevailing power outages and load shedding. With these measures, Pakistan aims to bridge the gap between demand and supply of electricity, which is one of the main reasons behind the biggest energy crisis in the country.
Pakistan’s energy crisis
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is facing major power outages in the country after the demands due to the summer months have increased rapidly compared to the total electricity generation. There are reports of long hours of load shedding in the country, leaving people suffering from the high temperatures.
Another reason contributing to Pakistan’s energy crisis is the rise in global fuel prices following the Russia-Ukraine War, after which the Pakistani rupee is hitting record lows against the dollar. In desperate measures to contain the crisis, Pakistan’s governments and other civic bodies are reducing their official working hours to save as much electricity as possible.
In summer, load shedding in the country reached 10-12 hours in cities and 14-16 hours in rural areas. This has to do with the plants that reduce their electricity generation capacity due to the shortage of natural gas and hydroelectric power in the country. The general energy crisis thus affected the electricity production in the country, leading to an individual electricity crisis on its own.
As part of the national energy conservation effort, Pakistan has reduced its official workweek from six to five days. The national cabinet also created a committee to draw up plans to work from home on Fridays for government and semi-government offices, including the early closure of commercial markets.