An indefinite BNP-sponsored blockade has started impacting Dhaka’s rice market, exhausting the traders’ stockpile and pushing prices by at least Tk 2 per kg, report news agencies.
Violence on Bangladesh’s highways during the blockade has severely disrupted shipments of goods leading to a supply crunch.
Rice prices started rising in Dhaka’s market from Monday, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the government’s trading arm, says
Traders were charging at least Tk 2 more for each kg of the staple.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia called the blockade on Jan 5.
Her supporters are running amok, bombing and torching vehicles and disrupting long-haul traffic.
On Thursday, the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry said businesses suffered Tk 365 billion losses, equivalent to 2.7 percent of Bangladesh’s GDP, in blockade violence in the last 16 days.
According to businessmen, the daily demand of rice in Dhaka is over 1,500 tonnes, most of which come in from Naogaon, Natore, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Kushtia and Joypurhat.
Bangladesh Auto Rice Mill Owners Association President AKM Korshed Alam Khan said the blockade and end of Aman rice harvesting season had upped paddy prices.
“Insecurity has pushed up transport costs. Overall, the prices of rice have increased a little,” he told bdnews24.com.
A truck’s fair from Dinajpur to Dhaka used to be Tk 17,000 to 18,000. But it is now not possible to hire trucks even with double the amount.
Rice-mill owners say they had not hiked rice prices at their end.
A supply crunch and an increased transport cost have pushed up rice prices at the retail level, they say.
“What we fear most is arson attacks,” Babubazar Rice Traders’ General Secretary Nizam Uddin said.
“We’ll lose everything if our trucks carrying rice is torched. That’s why we are not bringing in rice from other districts.
“This has led to a supply shortage. Moreover, the increased transport cost has also contributed to higher rice prices,” he told bdnews24.com.