An unapproved cattle market set up next to Dhaka-Aricha Highway in Savar continued to operate till yesterday despite mobile court drives, while an officially leased space for cattle market -- allotted hurriedly by local administration -- remains only on paper. Meanwhile, homebound passengers are suffering from traffic backlogs due to the illegal haat, allegedly run by ruling party men.
After a report was published in The Daily Star on the unapproved market Ulail Balur Matth in the municipality, local administration has visited the market several times, said Abdullah Al Mahfuz, assistant commissioner (land) in Savar and an executive magistrate. He said he conducted drives at the market along with police but could not find those who were operating it. “We also hanged notices at several points of market area to close it down,” said Mahfuz.
Several residents of the area, preferring not to be named, said the market was set up by influential locals backed by the ruling party and was being operated by one Saifur Rahman Sumon.
The Daily Star received a photo in which Atikur Rahman Atik, Savar upzaila unit president of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), was seen with the magistrate during a mobile court drive at the cattle market.
When executive magistrate Abdullah Al Mahfuz was asked about an allegation of Atik controlling the market, and him being seen next to the magistrate, he said, “I do not know who Atik is.”
Atik had spoken to this correspondent inside the market on Monday and said he was an associate of Saifur Rahman Sumon, the operator of the market.
He rejected phone calls from this correspondent multiple times on Friday.
Contacted, Savar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Parvezur Rahman said, “Our team is conducting drives, but could not find anyone [who were in charge of the market].”
“If the mayor help us, it would be easy to take action,” he added.
Municipality Mayor Abdul Goni, meanwhile, said the upazila administration were overseeing the matter.
A RUSHED LEASE AND NON-EXIXSTENT MARKET
Savar municipality got permission from DC office to set up temporary cattle market located in Balurghat area next to Savar Model Police Station on Tuesday.
On Wednesday -- rather coincidentally the same day The Daily Star report was published, the municipal authorities called for tender urgently, and awarded the lease to Saifur Rahman Sumon -- who is supposedly operating the illegal market in Ulail area -- that same day.
“Two bidders submitted tenders, and Sumon was selected as leaseholder as the biggest bidder with Tk 15 lakh,” said Sharf Uddin Ahmed Choudhury, chief executive officer of Savar municipality.
“Last year, we earned TK 62 lakh by leasing out the cattle market located in Savar Ulail Balur Matth area,” said Sharf Uddin, adding that they did not get permission for the market on that spot as it was next to the Dhaka-Aricha Highway.
The Daily Star Correspondent visited the ground that was allocated for the temporary cattle market on Friday and yesterday, but found no cattle market there.
Once again, Sumon could not be reached over phone for comments despite repeated phone calls.
However, the haat at Ulail was found abuzz with more than a thousand cattle and droves of buyers and sellers.
VEHICULAR MOVEMENT ON HIGHWAY HAMPERED
Vehicular movement on Dhaka-Aricha Highway from Fulbaria bus stand to Savar bazar bus stand was hampered, as vehicles coming to the market were parked by the highway.
Rabiul Alom, a bus driver, said they were forced to slow down on the road due to the cattle market.
Traffic inspector of Savar Abul Hossain admitted that vehicular movement was badly disrupted due to the market, but refused to comment further on the issue.