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Water-logging takes a toll on Chittagong commodity hubs

  • Published at 03:29 pm July 24th, 2017
  • Last updated at 03:31 pm July 24th, 2017

Traders in port city commodity hubs Khatunganj and Chaktai suffered heavy losses after their stocks were damaged by water congestion following heavy rains for the last couple of days. According to the Chittagong Patenga Meteorological Office, 99.8mm of rainfall was recorded in the 24 hours up to 3pm on Sunday. Between 9am on Sunday and 9am on Monday, 165 mm of rainfall was recorded. Large areas of Khatunganj, Chaktai and neighboring Korbaniganj and Rajakhali located on either side of the Chaktai canal were submerged in knee-deep to waist-deep water. The water congestion damaged large quantities of perishable commodities, including onions, garlic, rice, lentils, sugar, tea and spices after water flooded into the shops and warehouses at the wholesale markets. The water congestion forced traders to raise the height of the doorstill of both shops and warehouses in an effort to prevent water from coming in. However, even this was not enough as water managed to seep in through the walls. The traders of the century-old business hub said the problem was worsened further because of the solid waste and filth choking up the Chaktai canal. Every year, rainwater from the Karnaphuli river floods the shops and warehouses in the area through the various canals, including Chaktai Canal which also serves as the main drainage system for all the rainwater in the city alongside the usual sewage outlets. The commodity hubs house about 3,000 businesses and more than 5,000 warehouses. According to the Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association, the daily turnover in the wholesale market stands at Tk1200-1500cr. The traders said they had to incur huge losses due to the chronic water-logging problem. Syed Sagir Ahmad, general secretary of the Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association, said traders had yet to calculate their actual losses as they were too busy trying to protect what remained of their goods. “Every year we have to suffer huge losses and we want to solve the chronic water logging problem. The government should put special emphasis on Chaktai- Khatunganj since it is a major commercial hub of the country. Chaktai canal should be dredged and excavated on a regular basis,” said Sagir. Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Solaiman Badshah from the Chaktai-Khatunganj Warehouse Owners and General Merchants Association, said the long-standing water-logging problem had now turned into a tragedy for the commodity hub of the commercial capital. “Chaktai-Khatunganj is a long-neglected business hub of the country. Nobody seems to be concerned about the development of the wholesale market,” regretted the trade body leader. “Many parts of the Chaktai canal have been filled up as a result of land-grabbing and lack of regular dredging water-logging, causing the traders untold misery. We, on behalf of our organisation, had submitted memorandums to different government offices including the Chittagong City Corporation to press home our demands,” he added. Earlier, the traders from the Chaktai-Khatunganj Warehouse Owners and General Merchants Association had placed a seven-point charter of demands, including evicting all illegal structures from the banks of Karnaphuli river, restoration of navigability of the Karnaphuli and its connecting canals through regular dredging, construction of permanent protection dams and a sluice gate at the mouth of the canal while keeping avenues for the movement of boats and trawlers transporting goods, and constructing a truck terminal on the river bank at Chaktai area.