KHULNA: As Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festival of Muslims, is approaching nearer, shoemakers of Khulna are now awfully busy making fashionable shoes for males and females including children.
Affluent buyers pass their Eid festival in merriment wearing the shoes, but the makers who forsake their happiness to process these shoes become happy to some extent at the advent of Eid. This year shoemakers of Khulna are happy to get good wage.
Nihar Ranjan Mondal, a shoemaker of ‘Bengal Shoes’ said that the shoemakers are spending hectic hours making shoes on the occasion of the biggest festival of the Muslims. Considering different choices of different ages, they have been making trendy shoes of various designs for gents, ladies, boys, girls and children, he added.
We make shoe, slipper, flat and high heel for ladies, gents shoe and baby shoes also. This year, the demand for flat shoes is low while the new design ‘pencil heels’ are now in great demand among ladies, he further said.
Uttam Kumar Das, a worker (sole-man) of ‘Sunny Shoes’ said, “Their time schedule changes before each Eid for which they cannot give time to their families. By sleeping only 4-5 hours a day, they engage themselves in their daily routine of processing shoes for customers.”
We have to work from 10:00 am in the morning to till 4:00 am at night (about 16 hours) restlessly to meet the Eid demand. His wife and children live at Mohammad Nagar of Batighata upazila, but he cannot visit them due to work limitations.
Ananto Kumar Das, a 23 year old worker (pasting-man) said their works depend on per piece making. Generally they earn Tk 300 to Tk 320 per day. Now they are earning Tk 500 to Tk 700 per day. “My target is to earn Tk 15,000 this month to go to my village. This is the peak season for us to earn some extra money, so we don’t mind working for extra time,” he added.
Sanjoy Das, owner of ‘Bipu Shoes’ said the price of raw materials is increasing day after day which is causing so many problems for small businessmen like us.
Sanjoy demanded an initiative from the government and the SME Foundation to overcome their present difficulties in marketing their products, keep the factories running and paying workers salaries. They, however, avoid loans from non-government organisations NGOs because of high interest rates.
Earlier, we had taken loans from ASA, Grameen Bank, BRAC and TMSS to run our business at 47 percent interests, but we faced tremendous difficulties in repayment of loans, he added. This is one of the main barriers in running business, he said.
Shoe makers also urged the government to allow import of raw materials at a low import duty, setting up of a ‘Paduka Palli’ or a separate zone for the industry in a suitable industrial area so that all the footwear factories could have required facilities at one place, to help the industry flourish.