Transport blockade cuts supplies, pushes prices up

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Prices of goods are spiralling with a severely disrupted supply and the traders nearly done with their stockpile amid the countrywide non-stop transport blockade.
Truck and covered van owners charging higher-than-usual fares because of vandalism and torching of many long-distance vehicles by pro-blockade elements.
The broken supply chain has also put the traders of the country’s two biggest wholesale markets, Moulvibazar in Dhaka and Khatunganj in Chittagong, into a spin. Their stocks are almost empty.
The result is that the prices of nearly all products going ip in the market. Prices of rice have increased by Tk 1 to Tk 1.5 per kg.
In Moulvibazar on Saturday, sugar price was stable while prices of both soyabean and palm oils rose.
Flour, lentils and spices have also got costlier. With imported goods not being released from different ports due to the blockade, Moulvibazar traders association chief Abdur Razzak says that they were running out of stocks.
He told that those who were daring to haul goods had to bear high transport expenses. “And that’s why the prices are up too.”
Meer Md Hasan, owner of Hasan and Brothers at Khatunganj in the port city, thinks goods supply to the wholesale market dropped 70 percent only because of fear of violence and high transport fares.
“Traders have cut down on the amount of goods they bring in from different districts due to high fares. Sales at Khatunganj have declined too.”
Rice trader Rafiqul of Dhaka’s Babu Bazar said, “I used to bring six trucks of rice every week. But no trucks have come this week. A truck full of rice costs Tk 600,000 with a profit of Tk 2,000. But if the truck is torched, all is lost.”
Wholesalers say that usually owners charged up to Tk 12,000 for a big truck or covered van to move goods on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.
But now the owners are charging Tk 25,000 for each truck, said Meer Md Hasan.
Transport operators say any act of arson or bomb attack drives transportation costs manifold. They say they are being ‘forced’ to charge exorbitant prices because of low fuel supply and risks on highways.
Chittagong Transport Business Owners’s Association leader Abdullah Faruk Rubel told it cost much more to repair a burned vehicle than the money they got for delivering goods.
One such operator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was them who paid for towing the damaged vehicle by crane.
Many transport operators were reluctant to carry goods because of the increasing risks of sabotage in spite of police, RAB, BGB patrol the highways, said BGMEA Director Anjan Shekhar Das.
“The carrier may be insured, but the goods it transports are not. And so, it is geeting difficult to ship export products in time,” Das explained to
“Blockade, violence is undesirable. Businesspeople want peace.”
Since Jan 5 when BNP chief Khaleda Zia called the blockade of highways, waterways and railways, trucks, buses and cars are being damaged one way or the other every day.