While Raj Thackeray and his loyal party men were busy making a point, the service sector in South Mumbai was being dealt a heavy blow. MNS’s protest march from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan forced many establishments to down shutters, while those that remained open suffered losses owing to low footfalls.
The tourism industry also took a beating as few ventured out for sightseeing in SoBo, which is home to many of the city’s tourist attractions. “Since morning, there was only a trickle of tourists who wanted to take ferry rides to Alibaug or adjacent areas.
By afternoon, there were almost no takers. We are tired of this. Every time a VVIP comes or a morcha takes place in South Mumbai, our business is affected directly or indirectly. We have made just about 20 per cent of our usual earnings,” said Suhas Padte, a ferry owner at Gateway Of India (GOI).
Another ferry owner at GOI said, “They could have simply gathered at Azad Maidan. They can’t disturb life in the city like this. We are not against him but we request the government to deny permission for such rallies that bring the city to a halt.”
The food and beverage industry also suffered owing to slow business, as the city stayed indoors. “Business was very dull today. We hardly received any patrons, thanks to the morcha,” said Vasant Shetty, a restaurant owner from Colaba.
A delivery boy working for a celebrated diner at Fort said, “We weren’t able to make our deliveries on time. Around afternoon, we stopped taking orders for home delivery, as we knew we wouldn’t be able to make them. Business was very poor.”
Another hotelier echoed Shetty’s sentiments. “I had asked my staff on afternoon shift not to come. Very few were called, as I feared we would have to shut our establishment if the rally turned violent as it did the last time. I preferred to maintain a low profile and shut the eatery for an hour.”