With political unrest continuing and protestors insisting on not leaving central Cairo before the president steps down, business owners have been losing billions of pounds as stores stay closed and transportation problems make it difficult for goods to be delivered, Arab Press House reported.
The security vacuum that resulted from the withdrawal of police forces on Jan. 28, also known as Friday of Rage, drove many store owners to close down for fear of theft and sabotage. Even after relative calm returned to Egyptian streets, fuel shortage and lack of means of transportation hindered the arrival of commodities at retail outlets.
To contain the losses, the Federation of Egypt Chambers of Commerce is currently doing its best to facilitate the delivery of goods to stores all over the country.
“We are trying to deal with the shortage in basic commodities like food, medicine, and fuel in coordination with the ministries of trade, industry, and defense,” said Ahmed al-Wakil, head of the federation.
Wakil explained that the delivery of goods is done with the help of the armed forces that protect the trucks carrying the goods from any possible attacks by thugs that spread in Egyptian streets in the wake of the security vacuum.
Amr Khedr, board member of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce said that an agreement has been made with the newly appointed Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Samiha Fawzy and chamber chairman Engineer Ibrahim al-Arabi to facilitate the delivery of goods to stores, especially vital ones like food.
“Trucks carrying food can pass during the curfew provided that all their documents are correct,” he said. “All foodstuffs will also be released from customs without paying tariffs.”
Communicating with business owners
Ali Shoukri, deputy chairman of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber has been in contact with business owners, especially pharmacies and grocery stores, in different Egyptian governorates to get acquainted with the goods they need and the problems they face in order to get them.
“Through communicating with business owners, we try to reach a formula through which we can ensure that citizens are provided with the basic goods that have been lacking during the latest events,” he told AlArabiya.net.
Shoukri added that the chamber has agreed with vendors to make sure they don’t take advantage of the crisis and raise the prices of their goods.
“They agreed to open their stores and be satisfied with limited profit for the time being. Most stores are open now except the ones located in Tahrir Square where protests are taking place.”
When asked about the losses suffered by owners of small and big businesses, Shoukri replied that they are in billions in different fields. He cited the examples of one industrial zone in Borj al-Arab, southwest of Alexandria, and which alone lost 14 billion Egyptian pounds during the past two weeks.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)