The affected traders of Ganginarpar Hawkers Market in Mymensingh city have expressed concerns about the possibility of reopening their businesses shortly and called upon the government to support them with bank loans on easy terms.
Talking to The Daily Star, the traders said that after the fire, most of them were passing days by borrowing from others, but it was impossible for them to restart business without government loan.
Apart from managing the daily expenses for their families, the affected businessmen are contributing to reconstruction of the market, said Khalilur Rahman Ratan, an elderly businessman.
“We never faced such a crisis in the last 44 years since the market opened. Many of us have moved our businesses to the adjacent streets to support our families,” he said.
A fire ripped through the market on June 7, burning down 150 shops, mostly of clothing and footwear, of the market. The traders claimed that the extent of loss caused by the fire could be up to Tk 50 crore.
Established in 1974, the market used to cater to the middle and low-income group people of Mymensingh and other adjacent districts.
Ratan said he has already spent Tk 50,000 to rebuild his shoe shop, and he will need Tk 70,000 more to complete the work. “Then the matter of capital for reinvestment will come up,” he added.
Garments shop owner Ismail Hossain said, “I managed the money for constructing the shop on loan. I'll be in serious trouble if business does not pick up soon.”
Many of affected traders are now reeling under the pressure of loans, which they had taken before Eid-ul-Fitr in the hope of good business on the occasion, but everything was lost, said Alok Chowdhury, a cosmetics shop owner.
The traders said they mainly wait for Eid-ul-Fitr for good sales and earn the largest chunk of the year's income.
Talking to this correspondent, Abdul Motaleb Haque, president of Ganginarpar Hawkers Market Samity, said he faced a loss of around Tk 10 lakh in the fire, and now he is borrowing money for reconstruction work.
The traders will need over Tk 4 crore to rebuild the market and decoration of the shops, he said, stressing the need for government loan.
He said they would apply to the district administration to manage loans for them.
Mohammad Hossain, district relief and rehabilitation officer of Mymensingh, said the administration gave the affected traders Tk 11.79 lakh and 393 bundles of corrugated iron sheets (tin) so far.
“We have also sent a proposal for Tk 11 lakh more to the ministry concerned (disaster management and relief) for the traders, but there has been no response yet,” he said.