The sole surviving permanent cattle market and 19 other makeshift cattle markets in Dhaka will officially open on Wednesday ahead of the start of Eid-ul-Azha.
The markets consist mainly of makeshift bamboo huts for unloading the animals, as well as camps and booths for law enforcement agencies, veterinarians and others.
Apart from the permanent market at Gabtoli, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has set up 12 temporary markets and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has set up seven.
Both authorities have asked leaseholders not to begin operations until the official openings on Wednesday.
However, leaseholders at the Gabtoli market have already allowed traders to unload their animals.
DSCC cattle markets will be located at Meradia Bazar at Khilgaon, Moitri Shangha Playground adjoining Railgate Bazar at North Shahjahanpur, Jigatala-Hajaribagh ground beside Leather Engineering College, Rahmatganj Playground at Lalbagh, Shyampur Balurmath at Kadamtoli, Sadek Hossain Khoka Ground at Dholaikhal, Dhupkhola East and Club ground, Balurmath adjoining Brothers Union at Gopibagh, as well as the free spaces adjoining, Kamrangirchar Islam Chairmanbari, Postogola Shashanghat, Donia College playground at Jatrabari and Kamlapur Railway Station
DNCC cattle markets will be located in the Bashundhara residential area near Khilkhet's 300 feet road, Bosila Police Lines, Mirpur DOHS, Sector 15 of Uttara Residential Model Town, as well as the free spaces at Khilkhet Banarupa Housing, Eastern Housing in Mirpur Section 6, and between Ashian City Housing and Bhatara.
Local cows supply boost
On a visit to a few of the markets, this Dhaka Tribune correspondent found a large number of herdsmen there with their animals – local and Indian cows, buffaloes, or goats mostly from the western districts of the country.
At the Gabtoli market, trader Altaf Ali said a “good number” of traders were already on their way to the Dhaka city markets with their cattle.
“This year, the supply of local cows is higher than that of last year, so prices for local cows will be reasonable,” he said.
A group of traders supported Altaf's prediction and said Indian cow traders may face a loss as a large number of local cows are in stock and customers are increasingly favouring the latter.
Traders are asking for an average of Tk65,000 for 100kgs of meat, which was priced at more than Tk60,000 last year. Red meat traders, however, said that cattle traders will sell at a lower price if pressed.
Meanwhile, DSCC Chief State Officer Kamrul Islam on Sunday told the Dhaka Tribune the makeshift cattle market planned at Armanitola Playground has been closed, as bidders failed to offer the amount demanded by the city corporation. The DSCC had asked for Tk4.86 crore for the haat, but only received a bid of Tk1.33 crore.
He added that three cattle markets are still awaiting approval from the Local Government Division (LGD), with tenders to raise the bids for the ‘haats’ having been invited on three occasions.
Sources said that haats had also failed to raise the bid in previous years, but in those instances the LGD eventually granted permission at the prices that had been offered. The highest bidders for the pending haats have already finished necessary preparations.
However, DNCC Chief Estate Officer Aminul Islam on Monday told the Dhaka Tribune that the DNCC has closed two of the proposed haats. The two were to be located at the free space at Khilkhet Banarupa Housing Project and Ashiyan City Housing.
The cattle market oligopoly
An Eid cattle market in the capital is a massively profitable business. For a lease of Tk1 crore at any of the two city corporations, cattle markets can make Tk10-12 crore in three days.
Although the haats are meant to be leased out through an open bidding process, the Dhaka Tribune has found that only a handful of people get the leases every year.
Six ruling party men and two pro Awami League organisations were granted leases for the city cattle markets in the last two years, while only one person has been leased the Kamrangirchar haat for the last 10 years.