A decade of nothing
The Bastuhara-Boyra Housing Market was constructed 10 long years ago. But even after all this time, the Khulna City Corporation (KCC) owned market is yet to launch.
This means while a lot of space is being eaten up by the establishment, it actually brings no benefit to the residents of the city's Bastuhara-Mujgunni area, who have to travel three to four kilometres to visit the nearest kitchen market.
Meanwhile, at least four illegal floating markets have sprung up in the vicinity of the market.
KCC authorities said it cannot open the market as it has become a centre of political "power-play", alongside lack of interested shopkeepers and the unauthorised roadside markets in the area.
According to city corporation sources, the market construction was completed in April 2012. It has enough space to accommodate 74 shops, including 40 for vegetables, 14 for groceries, 10 for fish, and five for chicken and other meat. The market has three different sheds for these shops.
One year later in April 2013, around 400 interested traders applied for shop space.
But according to locals and traders, authorities did not really do anything after receiving the applications, which gradually stymied the market's momentum as traders' interest waned.
The market is surrounded by Mujgunni, Bastuhara, Goalkhali, Boyra Housing and Naval Colony areas. But rather than residents of the locations being benefitted from the market, they are forced to go to Chittrali, Daulatpur and Boikali markets, which are some three to four kilometres away.
Aslam Pervez, a resident of Mujgunni residential area, said, "It would've been nice for us if the market remained open permanently. But now we have to go to these distant markets, braving a lot of difficulties."
"KCC should re-call application from traders, remove the illegal shops and floating markets of the area and set up the actual planned market with proper facilities as soon as possible," he added.
Abdur Rauf, a shopkeeper interested in renting a shop space there, said, "We bought the form for shop allotment, but despite informing the local councillor several times, we have gotten nothing."
"As a result," Rauf said, "we are setting up shop outside the market. If the market was opened with proper facilities, our sales would definitely increase. The area's people would be benefitted as well."
Contacted, councillor of Ward-9, under whose domain the market falls, Mahafuzur Rahman Liton said they have visited the market recently and have decided to launch it as soon as possible.
He told this correspondent that the market could not be launched in the past due to political troubles. He said a lot of those who applied for shop space are in fact non-traders, who managed to file their applications using their political influence.
He also cited the market's location, which is at the edge of the city, as a problem, saying not many locals want to go there for groceries.
"But we're still trying to get the market up and running, because if we can do that, at least the city corporation will get some revenue," Liton said.
Md Mazed Mollah, market superintendent of KCC, confirmed the market is in the process of being fully operational.
"We have taken various initiatives to open the market, such as setting up mobile courts to evict illegal occupiers and calling for applications for shop space all over again."
However, he cited some difficulties with this. "Not many traders are willing to come here," he said. "It seems like they're more comfortable setting up shop around the market area but not inside it."
"We collect Tk 250 to 300 per day from some of the shops that come and run their trade inside the market. This is quite low compared to the standard market rate for shop space," he said.
He also said a project worth around Tk 49 crore is underway to construct new markets, including this one, soon.