CHATTOGRAM: Already grappling with last year's pandemic fallout, the port city dwellers are struggling to get by because of the continuous price hike of essentials amid a stricter lockdown in Ramadan.
Some people on Friday said the sufferings of the city dwellers, especially the commoners, knew no bounds as prices of most of the commodities, including rice, onion, edible oil, chicken, egg, fish and beef leapt over the last few days at the onset of Ramadan.
As in the past, prices of essentials started to rise either ahead of Ramadan or early in the month, they noted.
This year, prices of essentials started to increase during the first phase of the seven-day lockdown in early April and continued to rise during the month of fasting and restrainment amid the second phase of week-long nationwide shutdown, adding to the woes of the people, they stated.
However, the traders attributed to a few other reasons which also caused the latest round of price hike, besides imposition of the new phase of lockdown.
Disruption of supply amid the lockdown, closure of big shops and markets for the shutdown and restriction on gathering in and around bazaars were the other causes for the price hike, some traders told the FE.
Visiting some city markets on the day, this correspondent observed prices of almost all essentials, including rice, cooking oil, chicken, green chilli, cucumber and beef, and witnessed a sharp rise on the third day of Ramadan amid the weeklong lockdown.
Both wholesalers and retailers said that the crisis of transports shot up the carrying costs of the commodities which also contributed to the price hike.
Moreover, supply crunch, triggered by the two-week-long restriction on transportation impacted the stocks of the items that were carried into the city before the lockdown. The stocks of the essentials in the city are getting thinner day by day as any fresh large supplies have not yet arrived. Moreover, people have bought the essential items in big quantities ahead of the lockdown and Ramadan anticipating a rise in prices which caused declining stocks, triggering the continuous price hike, they mentioned.
The stocks at the shops are declining fast due to the supply constraint, some shopkeepers said.
Talking with this correspondent, some truck drivers alleged that they have to pay bribes to police for carrying essentials during lockdown.
Traders also said that shortage of customers amid strict lockdown restrictions have hampered their trade during the first three days of Ramadan.
The kitchen markets are open on limited scale amid the lockdown while the number of vendors selling goods on vans has also considerably declined amid the coronavirus-induced restrictions.
Shamsul Islam, a truck driver who carried vegetables to the city's Reajuddin Bazar on Friday, said, "I have to pay bribe to police for carrying vegetables during lockdown. So, the fare of the truck has gone up now."
Mohammed Ali, a vegetable trader, said, "How can we sell essentials. Police disturb us for opening shops."
Saleha Begum, a homemaker, said, "Essentials had been in abundance in the city just before the lockdown began. Now, there are no vans, markets are closed and the shortage of essentials has increased during Ramadan amid rising demands. As a result, the traders are charging exorbitant prices for the goods."