SRINAGAR – Continuous internet ban has badly hit e-commerce business in Kashmir putting on stake jobs of thousands of courier boys working for the shipping companies.
From last six months, due to internet ban, the courier boys are not able to deliver their shipments, resulting in stoppage of deliveries by these companies to Kashmir.
After the central government abrogated Article 370, special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories in August last year, all national and local online shopping companies decided to ‘halt’ their service to Kashmir resulting in business losses as well as job loss threats to the thousands of people working with the courier companies in Kashmir.
E-commerce platforms earlier on August 5 halted operations for 72 hours in Kashmir. The decision came after Article 370 was revoked. Amazon India stated that they temporarily closed their Kashmir operations due to safety concerns. Snapdeal revealed that they put all deliveries to J&K on hold until situation returns to normalcy.
“7,000 courier boys are working with more than 30 companies operating in Kashmir and majority of them are out of work these days,” said a business expert.
He said while one or two courier service providers have resumed partly their work, most of the companies are reluctant to do so.
“Neither the courier companies nor the online shopping companies are going to take the risk to deliver items which probably may remain ‘trapped’ in warehouses,” he added.
“Our business was well flourishing with the increasing demand for online shopping which is currently unavailable,” says Imtiyaz Ahmad, a receptionist at a local courier company.“With losses pilling up we are sitting ‘idle’ as there is no work since six months,” Shabir Ahmed, a courier boy said.
However, Shabir believes that situation is Kashmir is improving fast and requests the companies to resume their services here once again.
“Whenever there’s an internet ban, my sales go down by 50% as our customers can’t order food via our online application,” says Zahir Ahmad, another young entrepreneur, an online home delivery application that he has tied up with many restaurants and fast food joints in Srinagar as a home delivery solution. “Because of these frequent bans I have not been able to expand and employ more delivery boys,” he says. “My start-up is suffering.”Meanwhile, officials at General Post Office (GPO) Srinagar informed that the, deliveries across Kashmir could not be possible due to unavoidable circumstances.
“Our offices could not work properly in the clampdown while customers are themselves reaching here to take their parcels,” said an official.
On the other hand shoppers continue to feel annoyed as the exclusive companies like Amazon, EBay, Snapdeal and Flipkart is not yet delivering their items to Kashmir in the prevailing situation.
“It is pretty disturbing when you are trying to buy any product online and it shows “the item cannot be delivered to your location”, Sheeba Jan, a shopper said.
“I usually prefer online shopping but this time I could not buy even a “single item” on my wedding,” says Mursaleen, a shopper.
Since the 2G service was restored by authorities last month, however in Kashmir people are not able to perform online shopping in the absence of good internet speed.
“I have ‘missed’ plenty of online offers on different shopping websites during Eid, Gurupurab and Diwali festivals.” says Aqib Shafi from Eidgah.
However, suspension of internet services has also brought operations of the Point Of Sale (POS) machines, popularly known as swipe machines to a standstill. A shopkeeper Abdul Hamid at Amira Kadal here said that when internet services were operating smoothly, 50 per cent shoppers used to make purchases with help of digital payments, which is at the lowest ebb now.
“Earlier, with a ban on SMS, we were unable to generate OTPs due to which the digital payments such as Paytm or other modes became inaccessible,” he added.
When contacted senior executives at Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra helpline said that the companies are looking to restart the operations in J&K very soon. (KNT)
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