Many return empty-handed
Lines of people in front of the trucks selling onion at subsidized rate are getting longer and longer every day, with those running the open market sale of the essential cooking ingredient struggling to manage the mad rush with their limited supply.
Skyrocketing prices of onion have driven people from different strata of society to the spots in the capital where Trading Corporation of Bangladesh has been selling the item since September 17 at Tk45 per kilogram when the market price has risen to as high as Tk250 a kg, the highest in the country's history.
Although the demand has increased manifold, the TCB still sticks to proving 1,000 kg for each of the 35 dealers for sale at 35 points in the city. on
Visiting some OMS spots including Khamarbari, Rampura, Malibagh, Dhaka Tribune found huge crowds in front of the OMS trucks and the dealers were finding it difficult to manage the pressure of consumers.
Some of the buyers said they were standing in the line since early morning to buy onion from the OMS trucks and lamented that most of them could not get onion and had to return empty-handed.
Previously a person was allowed to buy two kg onion, but now each person in most areas could manage only one kg, they said.
Md Kabir, a seller on the TCB truck at Farmgate, said they were given one ton onion every day and as the rush increased, their stocks ran out within a few hours, which would previously last till afternoon.
"Considering the current situation, a person is getting one kg. Yet we are failing to meet the demand and most of them are leaving empty-handed," he added.
Ayesha Akter, who is a garment worker, came to buy onion at Rampura Bazaar. Standing in the line, she said: "Our income is low; how can we manage if the price of every kitchen item goes up? Onion is an essential cooking ingredient. Earlier we could buy this for Tk35-45 a kg. But now it is Tk250. How can we poor people survive?"
Shuman Ahmed, who came from Mohakhali to Famgate to buy OMS onion, was disappointed as there was no stock and he had to leave without any onion.
“Standing in line for hours, I could not get any onion. I doubt if I will get any today,” he lamented.
Asked if TCB would increase its daily allocation of onion for each truck, its spokesperson Humayun Kabir said they had no such plan.
“Onion price is increasing. It's none of our business. We have nothing to do with the high price except selling onion in OMS at lower price,” he said.
“We are trying our best to serve the people. We increased the quantity of onion from 400 kg to 1,000 kg for each OMS point. The government is already giving subsidy. So currently we have no plan to increase the OMS points,” he added.
On September 29, the Indian government banned the export of onion with immediate effect until further order in order to improve their domestic availability of onions.
Before that, the Indian government had fixed minimum export price of onion to rein in soaring prices in their domestic market. Since then, onion prices in Bangladesh markets have been on the rise.
On last Saturday, the wholesale price in the Dhaka’s city markets was Tk 225, and till Sunday it rose to Tk240-250 a kg.