The prices of essential commodities including vegetables have seen a sharp increase in Khulna due to the ongoing countrywide 84-hour hartal.
Hartal has disrupted the supply chain throughout the Khulna region as transport owners are refusing to use vehicles fearing arson and vandalism attacks by pickets.
Prices of almost all vegetables have increased by Tk10-15 per kg.
The price of cooking oil, flour, sugar, salt and spices shot up as supply, mainly from Dhaka, came to a halt. The supply of other essential commodities also remained disrupted for the second day, resulting in traders and retailers of the city and suburbs to charge extra.
In the kitchen markets of the city, prices of seasonal vegetables such as beans shot up by Tk20, bitter gourds by Tk10, eggplants by Tk8 and radishes by Tk10.
Shamsul Alam, a vegetable vendor of the city’s Dolkhola kitchen market said prices of cucumbers, cauliflowers, cabbages, potatoes and green chillies also increased by Tk15-20.
However, excuse of a low supply was not true for all wholesalers. Many traders and retailers hoarded a huge quantity of vegetables to bring in higher profits during the hartal.
“Many customers were so annoyed at the high prices that they went back empty handed with very few buying, said Alo Miah, a vegetable retailer of city’s Sher-e-Bangla road’s evening kitchen market.
Alam Howlader, a fish retailer of the same market, said he offered reduced prices to attract more customers, but sales were low, adding that supply disruption created the price spiral.
“My daily sales have been cut in half because of hartal,” he claimed.
A similar picture of few customers and high prices of essential commodities was also seen at Borobazar, Natunbazar and KDA New Market.
Nazrul Islam, president of Sonadanga wholesale vegetable market, admitted that vegetable prices increased, and agreed that a section of traders hoarded some essentials including vegetables before the hartal with an intention to sell them at higher prices.
Contacted, Abdul Gaffar Biswas, president of Khulna Divisional Truck Owners Association, said fearing arson and vandalism, transporters refused to bring out their trucks.