Brickfields count losses of Tk 1,200cr for cyclone
Brickfields in Bangladesh have incurred losses of around Tk 1,200 crore as heavy rains amid cyclone Midhili on November 16-17 hindered production early this season, according to industry people.
As per estimates of the Bangladesh Brick Manufacturing Owners Association (BBMOA), there are about 8,500 brickfields in the country that each faced an average loss of about Tk 15 lakh.
"We suddenly faced a natural disaster right when the brickmaking season began in early November," said Md Monium Khan, treasurer of the BBMOA.
Khan, also proprietor of M/S Raja & Brothers in Dhaka, added that manufacturers will likely increase brick prices by Tk 1 per piece to cover their losses, leading to higher construction costs.
Referring to BBMOA data, he informed that Bangladesh needs around 2,000 crore bricks annually for various public and private construction projects.
Raw bricks are typically sundried in fields before being baked in kilns, leaving them at the weather's mercy with nothing but a sheet of polyethylene laid on top for protection during rain.
"So, the bricks were badly damaged by heavy precipitation amid cyclone Midhili," Khan said.
In Patuakhali and Barguna, a total of 110 brickfields incurred combined losses of around Tk 11 crore.
Shafiqur Rahman Chan, president of the Patuakhali Brickfield Owners Association, said at least 20 of the 60 local brickmaking units were about to start the baking process before cyclone Midhili hit.
"But the raw bricks collapsed due to heavy rain, causing losses of about Tk 10 lakh per kiln," he added.
Abdur Razzak Kislu, general secretary of the Barguna Brickfield Owners Association, said most kilns in the district had already started baking bricks ahead of cyclone Midhili.
"New bricks would have been available by mid-December had the disaster not occurred. Now though, production has been delayed by at least a few weeks," he added.
Bashir Sikder, owner of Ahon Bricks in Patuakhali sadar upazila, said he had at least eight lakh raw bricks stacked in his field after starting operations in the first week of November.
"But I lost about Tk 20 lakh as most of the bricks collapsed due to heavy rain," he added.
Sikder also said it will be very difficult to overcome this loss even by increasing brick prices.
"We sold each brick for Tk 9-10 last year but this year, the price should be at least Tk 11-12," he added.
Nazmul Ahsan Nannu, president of the Barguna Brickfield Owners Association, said almost one crore raw bricks of 23 kilns in the Amtali and Taltali upazilas were ruined by the recent cyclone.
As per his estimate, the damage is valued at about Tk 5 crore.
Farak Gazi, owner of IS Bricks in Amtali upazila, said he lost about four lakh raw bricks in the rain.
Likewise, Abul Bashar Nayan Mridha, who owns Jimi Brick Kiln in the same upazila, said he lost about 10 lakh raw bricks worth around Tk 50 lakh.
Kiron Chakma, the owner of a brickfield in Maischari union of Khagrachari, said production at all 36 brickfields in the district were affected by the rain.
He informed that most kilns were just about to start brick-baking process when the cyclone came, causing losses of between Tk 15 lakh to Tk 20 lakh per unit.