By Sohaib Iqbal

The Utility Stores in many districts of southern Punjab are facing a shortage of grocery items. The affected districts include DG Khan, Layyah, Multan, Rajanpur, Bhakkar, Lodhran and Khanewal, which are facing an acute shortage of foodstuffs at these stores and people have no choice but to purchase these items from the private stores on expensive rates.

The utility stores have an acute shortage of, ghee, grains, pulses, flour, sugar, rice and other edible items. There are 96 stores in the urban areas whereas there are over 800 stores and franchises in the whole region. Around 4000 people visit a store every month, according to the utility stores management.

Tayyab Islam, a customer at a utility store in Rajanpur told Pak Voices, “We used to buy foodstuff at Utility Store for the whole month, and save 700 to 1000 rupees. Now we are compelled to purchase these items from the open market.”

Shehzad Babar, a native of Muzaffargarh spoke to Pak Voice saying, “The government must close these stores for good as they have lost their usefulness of providing food items at cheaper rates to the public.”

According to Tahir Khagah, Zonal Manager Utility Stores Multan acknowledged that the stores are facing the shortage of supplies but he did not show any urgency on the part of the management to address the issue as he said,  “We are going to issue a tender notice for the supply of these items.”

Currently, the citizens are facing problems due to the unavailability of foodstuff and sales at Utility Stores have hit a record low.

The people have demanded that the government must ensure the availability of food items at all utility stores.