Poor response to reopening of neighbourhood shops in B’luru

Bengaluru, April 25 (IANS) The Central government’s midnight decision to reopen neighbourhood shops from Saturday in non-COVID-19 hotspot areas has not seen many takers in this tech city, as the public response was poor and transactions were few.

“We have not seen customers rushing to neighbourhood shops, as evident from a few transactions during the day. It may take time for better response, as the lockdown continues with curbs on vehicular movement,” a pop and mom shopkeeper in the city’s southeast suburb Kodathi told IANS.

Rows of shops selling groceries and provisions are shuttered with not many buyers hanging around a few shops open for business.

Except a few shops selling iron and cement for construction, some kirana stores and medical shops, the regular shops which used to buzz with customers in the initial lockdown days were also shut.

“Looks like people have gotten a little used to lockdown. Many have not opened their businesses inspite of government allowing them,” Prakash, 21, a banana seller told IANS, whose shop is by the Sarjapura Road near the new Wipro Campus.

Kiran, a local resident zipping on his Yamaha RX 100 motorcycle on empty roads told that a few more shopkeepers may start opening businesses after the weekend from Monday.

Though a bunch of vegetables shops were open at the Kodathi junction, an intersection of roads leading to Sarjapura, Varthur, Bellandur and Silk Farm, just a handful of buyers were present.

A bustling chicken and mutton shop remained shut, including several such others.

“This difficult phase of low transactions may last for several months,” said a local kirana store owner from Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh.

A Hindustan Petroleum fuel filling station is left with three workers waiting for customers, a far cry from the pre-lockdown days when 20 workers used to pump 5,000 litres of petrol and 10,000 litres of diesel a day.

“Right now we have been reduced to just three workers and managing to sell only 1,000 litres of petrol and diesel together,” said Santosh, 23, a worker at the petrol bunk.

Eight Point of Sale (PoS) machines used for swiping many a debit or credit cards are gathering dust on them in the petrol bunk’s office.

A Swiggy delivery boy who came to pump petrol into his motorcycle lamented that he is delivering just five orders a day compared to the pre-lockdown period of 20 orders a day.

Similarly, the usual traffic cacophony at Kodathi has fallen silent with very few vehicles criss-crossing the junction.

A motorcycle repair shop opened for business three days ago with very few motorcycles coming for repairs or servicing.

Incidentally, some stores are opening for a couple of hours in the morning and evening, remaining shut for most of the day.

“I think many people and shopkeepers are yet to know that they can transact business,” pointed out Santosh.

Interestingly, no policemen were around to enforce the lockdown, hinting that people in general are adhering to the restrictions without supervision.

Kodathi suburb is 30 km farther from Bengaluru’s central business district.

(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at thambalasharon@gmail.com)