They made the commitment at a press conference jointly organised by Dhaka Metropolitan Meat Merchants Association (DMMMA) and Bangladesh Meat Merchant Association in Dhaka on Friday, the fifth day of their week-long strike enforced on February 13.
The announcement came just two days before a meeting between the traders, Commerce Ministry and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), when they will decide about the strike.
Meat traders pay between Tk20,000 and Tk30,000 as extortion while shipping each cow from the borders to Dhaka
“We could sell per kg beef within Tk300. Since we have to pay extortionists right from the border to Gabtoli market, how can we set reasonable prices for customers?” said DMMMA Secretary General Rabiul Alam.
He vowed to supply per kilo-gramme beef at the amount mentioned only if the ministry and the DNCC authorities ensure them flexibility to import Indian cattle and extortion-free cattle market.
He reiterated that they called the strike in protest of extortion and unsanctioned taxes collected by the leaseholders at Gabtoli cattle market.
He, however, said they will announce their next programmes on this issue upon the outcomes in Sunday’s meeting.
Abdul Barek, a DMMMA leader, told this reporter that they may extend their strike, enforcing it countrywide, if the meeting ends without fulfilling their demands.
Earlier on Wednesday, leaders of DMMMA and Dhaka Metropolitan North-South Mutton Traders Association in a media briefing claimed they have been forced to raise the price of red meat citing the same allegations.
They also accused the leaseholders at Gabtoli of hiring miscreants to threaten them if they refuse to pay.
According to Rabiul, they pay between Tk20,000 and Tk30,000 as extortion while shipping each cow from the borders to Dhaka, coupled with excessive taxes to the leaseholders.
Chief Estate Officer of DNCC Aminul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that the city corporation would take proper measures in this regard.
When contacted, Sayeed Khokon, Dhaka south city mayor, declined to make a comment on the strike. At a press conference on Wednesday, he said DNCC Mayor Annisul Huq is handling the matter since the Gabtoli market is under his jurisdiction.
Beef sold at Tk500-600/kg on Friday
While visiting Karwan Bazar on Friday morning, the capital’s biggest kitchen market, this reporter found chickens were on sale in abundance with only a few butcher’s shops selling red meat.
In the wake of the situation, local butchers were charging Tk500-600 and Tk700-800 for each kg of beef and mutton respectively. The crisis also pushed up the prices of poultry birds by Tk20-30 per kg.