Tea stall owners in Mingora bearing brunt of lockdown

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SWAT: Hundreds of tea stall owners in Mingora Bazaar have said that their daily income has fallen by 70 per cent during the last four months owing to lockdown.

They said that black tea was one of the popular drinks in Swat where people took it frequently that’s why they had a flourishing business before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

“Before the imposition of lockdown by government to prevent spread of Covid-19, we used to open our tea stall early in the morning and close it late in the evening. A large number of customers would come to take tea,” said Asghar Khan, a tea stall owner in Mingora.

He said that during the lockdown, he opened his stall at 10am and closed it at 7pm.

He said that he would sell paratha with fried eggs but he stopped selling them because customers were not allowed to sit at his stall to take tea. He said that only shopkeepers took tea as a parcel from his tea stall.

“I had 20 workers at my stall but now only five persons work with me. The remaining 15 are jobless and they call me daily for work but I cannot keep them as I cannot pay them,” said Asghar Khan.

There are more than 200 tea stalls in Mingora Bazaar where more than 1,000 workers used to work on daily basis but after outbreak of coronavirus and imposition of lockdown, 70 per cent workers have become unemployed.

“Majority of our daily workers are jobless and those, who work, earn less than before. I was paid Rs800 a day before the lockdown but these days I am paid Rs400 daily,” said Abdullah, a worker at a tea stall.

He said that Rs400 were not sufficient for his family but he could do nothing.

“My family’s livelihood was dependent upon the daily income I earned from a tea stall where I worked. I would earn Rs800 daily but now I am unemployed due to the lockdown. I am in great trouble because I have no other work to do,” said Iqbal Ali, a resident of Rang Mohallah.

The tea stall owners said that government had announced that the shop owners would not charge the rent but it was just an announcement.

“The owner of the building of my tea stall does not want to grant rent concession as he says that he has his own family and other activities to spend on,” said Hakim Khan, another tea stall owner. He said that he had to pay his stall rent monthly.

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