People across the country were flocking to grocery stores and supermarkets to buy different essential commodities, including rice, pulse, chickpea, potato, onion, edible oil and date, ahead of the weeklong ‘complete lockdown’ beginning on April 14.
Super stores and grocery shops were witnessing a huge rush of customers over the last couple of days as people are stockpiling necessary items fearing a crisis during the lockdown.Earlier, the government announced that it was planning to enforce a complete lockdown from Wednesday as the current restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus failed to yield any positive results.
People have gone for buying essentials in bulk as they said they will not be able to go outside during the lockdown to purchase things and restrictions might see an extension like in the past.
Many traders have hiked the prices of essential items following a sharp rise in demand. The panic buying has also strained the supply chain.
Rafiqul Islam, a bank employee who lives in Mohammadpur area of the capital, alleged that traders raise the prices of daily commodities during the lockdown. “This has prompted me to buy products now.”
He said he bought 5 kg onion at Tk 40 per kg, 1 kg chickpea for Tk 90 and 1 kg lentil at Tk 95, showing a Tk 5-15 hike each kg in a week.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) Mohammad Yousuf said the country has adequate supply of essential products due to huge local production and imports ahead of Ramadan.He said they have taken special measures for smooth plying of vehicles carrying agricultural products across the country during the lockdown.
There is enough stock of food grains to meet the demand for more than one year with private companies, traders, millers and wholesalers having more food grains than the government, said market insiders.
In a press release earlier on April 4, the Commerce Ministry urged people not to buy excessive essential products as the country has huge stock.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has boosted the stock of essentials due to the price hike. It has 10-12 per cent stock of essential products that are in high demand during Ramadan.
The TCB also runs e-commerce trading system so that people can buy the essentials without visiting trucks.
“The government always says they have enough stock of essentials but we have to face a crisis when traders increased the prices during the lockdown,”
Sultan Hossain, a private company employee who was buying essentials from a shop at Dhanmondi, told the Daily Sun.
He said prices of essentials were hiked for a couple of times ahead of Ramadan and now those are going up further on the pretext of lockdown.
Mentioning that the prices of different commodities went up soon after the lockdown was imposed last year, Sultan said he was buying items now for this.