Is anyone listening?
Shop owners across the capital city decided to take to the streets on February 2 to protest the political impasse and the violence that has come with it. More than a thousand members of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association (BSOA) decided to mark their protest in what the organisation termed as a critical situation with many shop keepers on the brink of going bust. And it is not only the small shops that straddle the side streets of the city that have been hard hit. Upscale markets and malls have all witnessed a massive drop in sales and it is estimated that these establishments are footing a bill of Tk150 crore per day to keep their shops open in the absence of customers.
The protesters urged for an end to the violent politics that has gripped the nation and the capital city since January 6. The dire situation is adversely affecting business for some 2.5 million shops which, before the present political crisis, generated about Tk 3,000 crore in daily sales. But there is grave concern that a large portion of these businesses may face closure in the very near future. That would mean a loss of livelihood and consequent hardship for an estimated 10 million families who are supported by these businesses. This scenario is a reflection of many other sectors including poultry and dairy to name but a few that have been hard hit by the choking blockade of Dhaka city and the wanton use of petrol bombs. To put all this in perspective, the economy as a whole is losing more than Tk 2,200 crore a day. The haemorrhage must stop.