1,500 salt workers pass hard days in Jhalakathi
Around 1,500 salt workers of Jhalakathi are passing days amid hardship as sale and production of salt sees drastic fall due to the non-stop blockade and frequent hartals enforced by BNP-led 20-party alliance since January 6.
"We cannot pay the wages of labourers as transport and sale of salt is badly hampered and operation of our mill has become limited to one day a week," said Sultan, tali master (accountant) of Paribahan Salt in Jhalakathi.
“I earned Tk 500 to 600 per day before the blockade and hartal but now I can hardly earn Tk 100. To maintain my five-member family I had to borrow Tk 30 thousand with high interest in last two months. Stop this politics to save us,” said Abdur Razzak, a salt labourer.
Another temporarily jobless salt worker Sultan Sardar said he was looking for other works for survival.
During this peak salt producing season, 20 to 30 engine boats usually came to the salt factories here with raw salt form Noakhali and Chittagong every week but now only two or three boatloads of raw salt come here, said Mamun, accountant of Lucky Salt.
"There are 13 salt mills in Jhalakathi but now their production often remains suspended for six days in a row. If the situation continues, the salt industry will be badly affected, and we will have to stay on the street," said Babul Howlader, president of salt workers union in Jhalakathi.
"We are incurring huge losses due to the countrywide blockade. Often we fail to operate our mills due to shortage of supply of raw salt while produced salt remains stored in the factory due to transport problem,” said Salauddin Ahmed Salek, owner of Gazi Salt, and president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jhalakathi.