Prices of essentials shoot up | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:36 AM, March 26, 2020

Prices of essentials shoot up

City residents crowd kitchen markets prior to 10-day shutdown

The prices of essentials, including rice, vegetables, cooking oil, spices, and cleaning items, have increased several folds over the last one week.

Even lemons, which were sold for Tk 10 a week ago, are now being sold at Tk 20-25 per piece.

As the country is in near-lockdown and a 10-day holiday for all government and most private organisations beginning from today, people thronged different kitchen markets fearing short supply.

A day after declaring the 10-day holiday, the government on Tuesday decided to suspend all public transport services to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Operations of all passenger trains, launches, buses, minibuses, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, and domestic flights have been suspended since Tuesday.

While visiting Mohammadpur Town Hall market, a correspondent saw long queues of cars and huge crowds of people buying daily essentials.

"It seemed people rushed to the market, like it was an Eid holiday," said a vendor at the market.

"Taking advantage of the huge demand, prices of many items were increased many times," said Mohammad Ajam, a resident of Tajmahal Road in Mohammadpur, while talking to The Daily Star.

"The crowd in the market is huge today [yesterday], even more than any occasion, like Eid. However, it is less than what it was the last few days. Vendors have taken this opportunity to sell all products at higher prices," he added.

In different kitchen markets, it was seen that people were defying healthcare professionals' advice of maintaining social distancing.

Although many of them were seen wearing facemasks, vendors didn't bother to wear any protective gear, posing health risks to themselves and their customers.

While keeping several bags full of kitchen and other essential items in his car, Anisur Rahman said he would not come out of his house in the next 10 days, unless there was an emergency.

"There is no guarantee when the situation will get back to normal," he said.

People were seen thronging other markets as well, including Jigatola, Karwan Bazar, and Mohammadpur Krishi Market, to buy daily essentials ahead of the 10-day holiday. However, they did not bother to maintain social or physical distancing.

While talking to a correspondent, Shariful Alam, a private company official, said he went to the market wearing a facemask.

"But so many people are roaming around in the market, which poses health risks as we don't know whether any of us are a carrier of coronavirus."

While visiting different markets, it was seen that price of different kinds of rice, including Nazirshal, Miniket and Paijam, had increased by Tk 8-10 a kg within a week.

Price of Miniket rice was Tk 58-60 a kg, which was Tk 50 last week.

Price of each kg of potatoes has increased by Tk 6, price of ginger by Tk 15-20, and garlic by Tk 10-15.

Prices of a few items including onion, however, decreased by Tk 10 to Tk 15 per kg.

Prices of most vegetables, however, doubled.

"I came to Karwan Bazar hoping that prices will be cheaper here than other markets. But prices of vegetables is costly here as well," said Tania Ahmed, a resident of the capital's Tejgaon area.

People were also seen buying different household items and toiletries, including soap, bleaching powder and hand sanitizer at high prices.

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