Due to the ongoing waterlogging crisis caused by the latest spell of downpour coupled with tidal surge, the supply chain of daily essentials from Chittagong to the rest of the country is being badly hampered.
The scenario appeared as the city’s Khatunganj and Chaktai commodity markets, two largest wholesale hubs in the country for the last few days, have gone under knee-to-waist-deep water in the last 7 days.
Transportation of essentials are hampered severely owing to the situation that caused the damage of large quantities of perishable commodities, including onions, garlic, rice, lentils, sugar, tea and spices stored in the warehouses and shops.
The wholesalers in the two markets that house 3,000 businesses and more than 5,000 warehouses have been passing dull days over the period. They were claiming to be facing growing losses as many areas of Khatunganj, Chaktai and their neighboring Korbaniganj and Rajakhali areas have remained inundated for the past week.
During every year monsoon, rainwater from the Karnaphuli River floods the shops and warehouses in the area through the various canals.
Stakeholders say 40-50% transaction of consumer goods of the entire country is made through the banks located in the two markets.
According to the Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association (KTIA), the daily turnover in the wholesale market stands at Tk1200-1500cr. But, traders of the century-old commodity hubs said the overall daily transaction has dropped to a staggering 50% lately.
Sources at the commercial banks there are also seeing a slump in transaction compared to that made in a normal banking day.
When contacted, Mahbubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI), said measures should be taken urgently to address the city’s waterlogging problem.
“Our businesses get heavily damaged every time such waterlogging occurs. The water congestion also disrupts the supply chain of consumer goods from the two commodity markets to other parts of the country,” said Alam, also the president of the KTIA.
Such a situation keeps pushing up the cost of doing business with the bank interests spiraling, said Mahbub, who wrote to the water resources ministry on Tuesday, seeking its immediate measures to fix the problem.
“This time around, the traders incurred a loss of Tk300-400 crore, which will put an adverse impact on the overall economy of the country,” he feared.
KTIA General Secretary Syed Sagir Ahmad said: “On average, 600-700 loaded and offloaded trucks arrive at and leave the markets every day. But, the figure has been halved over the last one week,” he observed.
According to Chaktai Rice Traders Association, usually 50-60 trucks laden with rice come to the wholesale market every day while 30-40 empty trucks come for loading rice.
“Currently, 5-10 trucks are coming for loading rice due to the waterlogging problem,” said Omar Azam, general secretary of the association.